Preliminary results of national survey by the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) suggest Australians are putting their health at risk by not eating the recommended amount of whole grains each day.
Up to 75 per cent of Australians are reportedly not processing enough whole grain foods, such as whole grain breads, breakfast cereals, crispbreads and intact whole grains – including oats and brown rice.
Whole grains are significant contributors to dietary fibre, vitamin and mineral intake in the Australian diet, with 48g recommended for adults each day. These recommendations are underpinned by the body of scientific evidence that shows three or more serves of whole grain foods each day is linked with a reduced risk of heart, diabetes, bowel cancer and weight gain.
To compare Australians’ whole grain intakes with current dietary recommendation, the 2014 Australian Grains and Legumes Consumption and Attitudinal Study, due for full release in October, investigated the eating habits of 3031 Australians aged two to 70 years. The survey reported the daily serves of whole grain foods of Australians and, for the first time, also reported daily grams of whole grain intakes.
The GLNC partially attributed the results to consumers finding it difficult to identify and choose better quality whole grain foods due to inconsistent labelling.
“There is a need for greater awareness of the nutritional benefits of grain foods accompanied with an industry standard to help people better understand the whole grain content in foods and, ultimately, to make better food choices when filling their supermarket trolleys,” the council stated.
To support national dietary recommendations and to set the record straight about foods labelled as whole grain, the GLNC is collaborating with the Australian food industry to roll out the voluntary Code of Practice for Whole Grain Ingredient Content Claims.
“Until recently there has been no industry standard for how whole grain content of foods were defined and so for the first time consumers will begin to see consistent descriptions on foods labelled as whole grain – and can choose better products that say ‘contains’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’ in whole grain,” the council said.
To date, 12 major food companies have already signed up to GLNC’s Code of Practice to align their labelling of whole grain products with the new standard, including Bakers Delight, George Weston Foods and Goodman Fielder.