Whole grains are vital to human health, but that message is being lost.
Survey results show Australians are putting their health at risk by not eating enough core grain foods and by too often choosing foods that should be occasional in a balanced diet.
The 2014 Australian Grains & Legumes Consumption & Attitudinal Study is a nationally representative survey commissioned by the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) to track consumption and to understand Australians’ attitudes towards grain foods and legumes, dietary recommendations and the barriers to meeting dietary recommendations.
The study found that the average number of daily serves of core grain foods, such as bread, breakfast cereal and pasta, has dropped by almost one-third (29 per cent) between 2011 and 2014. Worryingly, 70 per cent of adults are also not choosing wholegrain options most of the time, despite the fact it is recommended we eat these foods more often than refined grain foods such as white bread.
The survey also found that 60 per cent of people actively choose to eat fewer grain foods than the six serves a day recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines (one serve being equal to one slice of bread).
Encouragingly, 35 per cent of Australians are reporting they are eating legumes at least two to three times a week, which is the amount of servings linked to better health.
This general lower consumption of grains appears to be driven by widespread misconceptions and a lack of understanding about the health benefits of core grain foods. Common reasons provided by survey respondents were to assist with weight loss and a perceived link between grain foods and bloating.
While Australians are actively avoiding grain foods, legumes seem to be more a case of being overlooked. Most survey respondents (64 per cent) simply did not think to regularly include legumes in their meals.
This means the majority of Australians may be missing out on the essential nutrients and other health benefits of legumes, including reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers and obesity.
GLNC recommends that Australians enjoy core grain foods three to four times a day, choosing whole grains most of the time, and continues to disseminate research on the health and nutrition benefits of grain foods in a balanced diet.
GLNC continues to raise awareness, including through involvement in activities to celebrate the United Nations’ International Year of Pulses in 2016. It is working with media to spread the word about the different varieties of legumes available in Australia, the health and nutrition benefits for consumers and how to include them in meals.
GLNC is also engaged in ongoing dialogue about the Australian Dietary Guidelines to help drive greater awareness of the benefits of core grain foods and legumes. GLNC is advocating for a quantified recommendation within the Australian Dietary Guidelines for the number of serves of legume foods per day, which would help Australians understand the benefits of these foods and guide how often to eat them for good health.
GLNC, 02 8877 7877,
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