18 Feb 2019

Calculating healthy and sustainable diets with Optimeal

Optimeal 3.0 now available

Our generation faces challenges of global proportions. Our diet and how we produce our food make a major impact on the planet. A large proportion of the world’s population either eat very unhealthy diets or are malnourished, so if we are to feed the growing global population with healthy diets we will have to make urgent changes to our food system. But how can we make our food system healthier for people and planet? The recent EAT-Lancet report on healthy and sustainable diets shows just how topical and urgent this question is.

To address the complex issues involved in the subject of healthy and sustainable diets Blonk Consultants launched the Optimeal tool in 2013. Optimeal is an optimisation tool for calculating the sustainability and health value of foods and dietary patterns. Optimeal is now used by a range of food companies, government bodies and NGOs. Recently we have been hard at work behind the scenes making major improvements to the tool and bringing it up to date, and are now proud to present the result: Optimeal 3.0.

Try out the free Optimeal demo

Intuitive interface and new functionality

To develop this new version of Optimeal we worked with Frontwise, an organisation specialised in the design and development of online tools with interactive interfaces that provide an exceptional user experience. Together we have made Optimeal 3.0 highly user friendly.

The tool is now fully web-based and it has been given a whole new look and feel. The result is an attractive program that is intuitive to use, with a wizard to help the user choose options in the analysis process.

We have also added new functionalities, such as the product creator, which helps food companies to innovate and develop new products. It gives invaluable information on the nutritional and environmental profile of ingredient combinations, so the user can adapt them to obtain the optimum mix for health and/or sustainability. In the next step the new product can be added to a dietary pattern. The tool therefore enables the user to make a thorough analysis of the contribution it can make to a balanced (healthy and sustainable) dietary pattern. It gives companies the information they need to develop future-proof products.

Datasets in Optimeal 3.0 – a European focus

When optimising dietary patterns it is essential to use accurate and reliable data. For a successful optimisation you need four types of data:
  • a reference diet;
  • nutritional boundaries that define a healthy diet;
  • the nutritional properties of foods
    (kcal, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc.);
  • environmental properties of foods
    (e.g. carbon footprint, land use and fossil energy use).
The dataset supplied with Optimeal 3.0 has a European focus. The reference diet is an average European diet based on information from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The nutritional boundaries that define a healthy diet are also based on EFSA guidelines. The nutritional values of the foods, such as vitamin and nutrient content, are the averages of values from seven European countries. The environmental impacts of the foods in the dataset have been determined by life cycle assessment (LCA). An extensive methodology document gives detailed information on the data and methods used.

Additional datasets

In addition to the European dataset, we have also developed regional and detailed datasets, for example for specific diets, age categories or activity levels, or with gender-specific nutritional boundaries. The first available regional dataset is for the Netherlands. We can, of course, also provide bespoke datasets, for example for other countries or regions.

Free demo

Are you curious to know more about the power of Optimeal? Then go to www.blonksustainability.nl/tools/optimeal and try out the free demo.

Webinar: Healthy and sustainable food (free)

Do you want to know more about the complex subject of healthy and sustainable food?

On 12 March 2019 (10:00 - 11:00 AM CET) we are holding a free webinar (in English) on how to calculate a healthy and sustainable dietary pattern. And of course we will be demonstrating the new functionalities of Optimeal 3.0.

Sign up now

More information

If you have any questions about Optimeal or about healthy and sustainable food,
contact Judith Groen at judith@blonksustainability.nl or call +31 (0)182 579970.