Photo of Karin Jonsson
Karin Jonsson, Project leader, Chalmers. Photo: Martina Butorac

New project to make Swedes eat more whole grain

Eating more whole grain benefits public health. But nine out of ten Swedes eat too little. A collaborative project, initiated from Chalmers University of Technology, now aims at getting people to eat whole grain in products like bread, pasta and breakfast cereals.
Chalmers University of Technology and ten other participants from the food industry, consumer associations, public partners and nonprofit organizations now start up a new project, funded by the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation System, Vinnova. And more are welcome to join.

"The strengths of this new collaboration lie in the fact that it’s based on well-established research, with consistent results on the health effects of whole grain, and that many different players – with different focus and experience – gather around a common goal, namely to improve Swedish public health by increased consumption of whole grain. The mix of partners involved creates good conditions for this to be a success", says Rikard Landberg, Professor at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering.

Research clearly show that a high intake of whole grain lower the risk of developing many of major non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. In fact, whole grain is the single most important dietary factor in preventing these diseases in Sweden. According to the Nordic Nutritional Recommendations, we need 75 grams of whole grain per day – but nine out of ten eat too little.

Danish predecessor
In Denmark, the successful Fuldkornspartnerskabet (Whole grain partnership) has increased the Danes' intake of whole grain from 32 to 63 grams per day since the project began in 2007. The Swedish project will find inspiration in the Danish example, taking into account Swedish conditions for cooperation, eating habits, innovation and communication.

The project, called Tomorrow’s cereal consumption, officially started on December 19, when the collaborators met for a first meeting. Karin Jonsson, researcher at the Divison of Food and Nutrition Science at Chalmers, is the project leader:
"The next step is to invite more stakeholders. At workshops during the spring we will jointly develop our planned activities, along with the establishment of an action plan for stage two of this collaborative project. It is all about translating well established research findings into consumption patterns that benefit public health and it’s great that we can now start with joint efforts", she says.

A variety of activities planned
The project aims at improving public health through various efforts; through an increase in the development of wholegrain products and services, increased and improved communication about the health aspects of whole grain, and through making whole grain products more accessible.

"There’s a lot of benefits in eating more whole grain, and it’s all around us – in our fields, in stores and bakeries. Eating more whole grain should be as natural to us as the use of olive oil in Mediterranean countries. The health potential of whole grain is at least equal to that of olive oil. It is very positive that prominent researchers in the food and health area, and specifically focused on whole grain, have initiated this project", says Maria Sitell, spokesperson and dietician at The Bread Institute.

FACTS: Initial participants in the project
Chalmers University of Technology, The Bread Institute, Fazer, City of Gothenburg – Public meals, The Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation, Stockholm Consumer Cooperative Society, Lantmännen, Leksands knäckebröd, The Swedish Food Federation, Nestlé and Pågen.

Text: Mia Malmstedt/Maria Sitell
Photos: Martina Butorac and Pixabay

Published: Tue 18 Dec 2018. Modified: Thu 20 Dec 2018