Dietary Species Richness, an important measure of a healthy diet

  • 11th January 2018
  • by secretary

10 January 2018. “Dietary Species Richness as a Measure of Food Biodiversity and Nutritional Quality of Diets”.

A recent paper by Dr Carl Lachat of Gent University, Jessica Raneri of Bioversity International, and others introduces Dietary Species Richness, a new food biodiversity indicator to help examine the correlation between agrobiodiversity and diet quality. Nutrition Research Specialist, Raneri explains, “Food system sustainability, biodiversity and nutrition are current hot topics, yet we didn’t actually have any validated indicators that could measure the nexus between these three. Now we do.”

The research looks at dietary data from 6,226 participants, who are women and young children, in rural areas from seven low- and middle-income countries. The findings show that dietary quality increased with dietary species richness, children generally had less diverse diets than women, and that dietary nutrient adequacy increased significantly with every additional species consumed. This suggests that food biodiversity may increase diet quality in vulnerable populations in biodiverse regions.

“The links between sustainability, nutrient intake adequacy and diet diversity can help identify where and how food systems could be improved.  Reporting the number of species consumed during dietary assessment provides a unique opportunity to cut across two critical dimensions of sustainable development: human and environmental health, and complements existing indicators for healthy and sustainable diets.” Dr Lachat