Prospects to improve the nutritional quality of crops

Lars B. Scharff*, Vandasue L.R. Saltenis, Poul Erik Jensen, Alexandra Baekelandt, Alexandra J. Burgess, Meike Burow, Aldo Ceriotti, Jean Pierre Cohan, Fernando Geu-Flores, Barbara Ann Halkier, Richard P. Haslam, Dirk Inzé, René Klein Lankhorst, Erik H. Murchie, Johnathan A. Napier, Philippe Nacry, Martin A.J. Parry, Angelo Santino, Aurelia Scarano, Francesca SparvoliRalf Wilhelm, Mathias Pribil

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


A growing world population as well as the need to enhance sustainability and health create challenges for crop breeding. To address these challenges, not only quantitative but also qualitative improvements are needed, especially regarding the macro- and micronutrient composition and content. In this review, we describe different examples of how the nutritional quality of crops and the bioavailability of individual nutrients can be optimised. We focus on increasing protein content, the use of alternative protein crops and improving protein functionality. Furthermore, approaches to enhance the content of vitamins and minerals as well as healthy specialised metabolites and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are considered. In addition, methods to reduce antinutrients and toxins are presented. These approaches could help to decrease the ‘hidden hunger’ caused by micronutrient deficiencies. Furthermore, a more diverse crop range with improved nutritional profile could help to shift to healthier and more sustainable plant-based diets.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFood and Energy Security
Issue number1
Early online date22 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • crop improvement
  • health
  • nutrient composition
  • plant breeding
  • plant-based food
  • protein content


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