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Why whole grains should be incorporated into nutrient-profile models to better capture nutrient density

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Chris Seal



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Healthy eating patterns, as described by dietary guidelines, typically favor whole grains, low-fat dairy, vegetables, fruit, legumes, and nuts and seeds. Nutrient profiling (NP) models capture nutrient density of individual foods and can inform healthier food choices. Although whole grains are prominently featured in most dietary guidelines, they are not included in most NP models. Healthy foods, as identified by most NP models, are those that contain limited amounts of energy, saturated fat, total or added sugar, and sodium. As global dietary guidance turns to foods and food groups as opposed to individual nutrients, future nutrient density metrics may need to do the same. Potential methods to incorporate whole grains into the overall concept of nutrient density and into selected NP models are outlined in this review. Incorporating whole grains into the Nutri-Score, Health Star Rating, or the Nutrient Rich Food (NRF) index will require further analyses of dietary nutrient density in relation to health outcomes across diverse population subgroups. We present the rationale for how the inclusion of whole grains in NP models can assist in the implementation of dietary guidance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Drewnowski A, McKeown N, Kissock K, Beck E, Mejborn H, Vieux F, Smith J, Masset G, Seal CJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Advances in Nutrition

Year: 2021

Online publication date: 28/01/2021

Acceptance date: 07/12/2020

Date deposited: 18/12/2020

ISSN (print): 2161-8313

ISSN (electronic): 2156-5376

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/advances/nmaa172


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