Our work to improve the consumption of nutritious and safe food is based on three strategic objectives:
- Increase consumer demand for nutritious and safe food.
- Increase availability and affordability of nutritious and safe food.
- Change market incentives, rules and regulations to encourage the production and consumption of nutritious and safe food.
No one single food item exists that provides all elements needed for a healthy diet. Individuals consume different types of food as part of their diet and make choices on the basis of individual foods. This means that it is important to make nutritious and safe foods available, affordable, convenient and attractive, and empower people to make healthy diet choices.
We focus on food safety as a complementary aim, ensuring that the nutritious foods we promote are safe and maximise health outcomes.
We seek to ensure that the promotion of nutritious and safe diets have no negative effect on climate, land, water and fertiliser use, and biodiversity.
What is “nutritious food”?
A diet is a combination of different foods - no single food can make up a nutritious diet. In general, although food science and human health are dynamic and we are constantly learning, we know a lot about what types of foods in what combinations add up to a healthy and nutritious diet. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides guidance based on the best available medical evidence, and we follow these guidelines.
GAIN defines "nutritious food" as "food that in the context where it is consumed and by the individual that consumes it, provides beneficial nutrients (e.g. vitamins, major and trace minerals, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, dietary fibres) and minimises potentially harmful elements (e.g. antinutrients, high quantities of saturated fats and sugars)".
The following table specifies the different types of typically "nutritious foods":
|Characteristic||Description||Examples of food categories|
|High inherent nutritional value||Naturally contains micronutrients, dietary fibre, high-quality protein and/or essential fats in significant quantities. No major antinutritional or harmful qualities when consumed in recommended quantities.||Rich sources of nutrients: fruits and vegetables; legumes; nuts and seeds; unsweetened dairy products; eggs; fish; lean meats.|
|Enhanced nutritional value||Foods with some inherent nutritional value that become more nutritious through the addition of nutrients (i.e. fortification) or changes to the processing procedures. No major antinutritional or harmful qualities.||Fortified staple grains; mitigating loss of germ and dietary fibre in grain products.|
|Some inherent nutritional value||Foods with some inherent nutritional value for which potentially harmful elements have been minimised.||Minimally sweetened dairy products; low fat, sodium and minimally processed meat; low sugar fortified biscuits.|
|Source of added nutrients||A condiment, food or product that enhances the nutritional value of foods or diets to which it is added.||Iodised salt; fortified cooking oil; micronutrient powders; lipid-based nutrient supplements.|
Locally-available food sources and cultural preferences are important factors in shaping diets, and an individual’s needs of different types of foods varies with age, life and work patterns, as well as individual characteristics. It is however easy to pinpoint the unhealthy diets which lead to poor health and development outcomes: these are predominant for at least one in three people worldwide.