New research suggests that Australian children are falling short of their recommended intake of grains and legumes and may be at risk of missing out on essential nutrients as a consequence.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that children eat a balanced diet with a variety of nutritious foods from all five food groups. Are your kids enjoying the benefits of core grains?
The 2011-12 National Nutrition Survey (NNS) showed that core grain foods – including bread, breakfast cereal, rice and pasta – provided most of the seven key nutrients, such as iron, magnesium, zinc and thiamine, in the diets of Australian children.
It also showed that the average intake of core grain foods for Australian children across all age and gender groups fell short of the recommended number of daily serves.
A Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) consumption study in 2014 has shown that since 2011 children’s intake of core grain foods has declined and almost half (48 per cent) of Australian parents have been limiting their children’s intake of core grain foods.
Adequate consumption of core grains has been found to reduce the risk of weight gain, provide long-term disease protection and improve learning.
Children who received the recommended daily core grain serves were found to be more likely to achieve the targeted daily intake of dietary fibre. Higher fibre intake is linked with a reduced risk of health problems and disease at a young age.
To help provide adequate nutrition, GLNC encourages all Australians, including children, to eat core grain foods three to four times each day and to focus on consuming at least half of each serve as whole grain or high fibre food.
With more than 65 per cent of children consuming bread or bread rolls each day, another step towards better core grain food intake may be to choose whole grain or high fibre breads more often.
Learn to relish legumes
Most Australian children are also not meeting recommendations for legume intake, with only one in every 20 children consuming legumes regularly.
As well as containing essential nutrients, legumes mostly have a low glycaemic index (GI), so they have the potential to help kids maintain their energy levels during the day and impart other health benefits associated with a lower GI diet.
GLNC recommends Australians consume legumes at least two to three times per week. Incorporating legumes into family meals is easier than you might think. For example, serve baked beans for breakfast or add lentils to your favourite spaghetti bolognaise recipe to help achieve this aim.
Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council
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