Legume consumption lift

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The popularity of grains in Australia's national diet is rising again, a study by the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council suggests.

PHOTO: Eamon Gallagher

The popularity of grains in the national diet appears to be rising again after dipping several years ago. A study of more than 1200 people by the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council has shown that fewer Australians are now limiting grain food intake and whole legume consumption is increasing.

Following a concerning 30 per cent decline in average daily serves of grain foods in 2014, due in part to the rise of ‘paleo’, low-carbohydrate and gluten-free diets, grain consumption has now plateaued. About 47 per cent of people still choose to limit grain food consumption, but that figure was 60 per cent three years ago.

The study also showed that consumption of legumes such as beans, peas and lentils has increased by four per cent in three years, which dietitian Dr Joanna McMillan says is a step in the right direction for the health of Australians.

“Australians are starting to believe in grain foods and their health benefits again, and with good reason,” Dr McMillan says. “Research has shown that eating more whole grains and legumes is linked to a reduced risk of early death and chronic disease.”

Eating two to three serves of whole grains daily can reduce the risk of developing our nation’s leading cause of death – cardiovascular disease – as well as type 2 diabetes and certain cancers by 20 to 30 per cent.

Legumes offer significant health benefits, too, with every 20 grams of legumes (daily intake) reducing the risk of early death by seven to eight per cent.

Australians can take action to improve their health simply by adding half a cup of legumes or an extra serve of whole grains to their day. Replacing half the mince in a bolognaise sauce with red lentils or adding a handful of oats to a smoothie are great ways to increase your intake.

“While there is still more to be done to encourage whole grain and legume consumption, this new research shows that we are moving in the right direction,” Dr McMillan says.

GRDC Research Code GOG00009

More information:

Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council