Defining a nutritionally healthy, environmentally friendly, and culturally acceptable Low Lands Diet

  • Corné van DoorenEmail author
  • Harry Aiking



The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that linear programming can support to define nutritionally healthy, environmentally friendly, and culturally acceptable diets, using the Low Lands as an illustrative example.


Our study quantifies the historical Dutch diet of 75 years ago, based on a cultural history research. We calculate the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) and land use (LU) of this diet, using actual life cycle assessment (LCA) data for the 206 most consumed products, and the health score, based on ten nutritional characteristics. In order to meet the current requirements, we optimize this diet for adult males using linear programming. We compare the diet with the present Dutch, Mediterranean, and New Nordic Diet.

Results and discussion

An optimized Low Lands Diet has the same healthy nutritional characteristics (Health Score 123) as the Mediterranean Diet (122) and results in a lower environmental impact than the Mediterranean and New Nordic Diet (higher Combined GHGE-LU Score 121 versus 90 and 91). GHGE are 2.60 kg CO2eq per day and LU 2.86 m2 * year per day.


Through applying the method of linear programming, it is possible to calculate an optimal diet for the Low Lands with a short cultural distance, that is, as healthy as and more sustainable than a transition to more foreign European diets.


Greenhouse gas emissions Historical Dutch diet New Nordic Diet Linear programming Mediterranean Diet 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Netherlands Nutrition Centre (Voedingscentrum)The HagueThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Institute for Environmental Studies, VU UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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