Legumes in a sustainable healthy diet: (How) to be or not to be, that is the question

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One of the staple foods in a healthy and sustainable diet is legumes. As such, new dietary guidelines around the globe now include higher intakes of legumes. For example, the most recent Danish dietary guidelines recommend a daily intake of 100 g of cooked legumes. This is, however, far from current intakes. The question is then, how should legumes be (or not be) designed to enable this grand dietary transition necessary to contribute to current global sustainability goals? One option has been to produce legume-based meat alternatives. But is this the only way to go? In this opinion, we debate this solution. We outline the processing, health and climate aspect of legume product consumption and argue that we do not have the right information to be able to appropriately design future legume-based foods. We conclude that processing must be part of the solution as we also need to replace red meat with legumes and re-design traditional meals to include legumes or legume products. Finally, to create the necessary lasting impact for planetary and population health, further dimensions such as food culture, equitability and affordability should also be in focus.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Food Design
Pages (from-to)171-185
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • climate
  • Disease
  • food culture
  • food processing
  • plant-based meat substitutes
  • pulses


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