More legumes, less red meat


Berkeley Vale, New South Wales

Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing has welcomed newly-revised Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG) that encourage Australians to eat more legumes and less red meat. 

In fact, the guidelines reveal a recommended maximum amount of red meat. . . of no more than 455g per week.

The guidelines recommend an increased intake of legumes across all age groups. The recommendation, which informed the guidelines’ revisions, indicated that legume intake should be increased by almost five times the current intake (470 per cent).

Trish Guy, Corporate Nutrition manager at Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing, welcomed this increased emphasis on the health benefits of legumes, which are listed as both a vegetable and a source of protein. 

“Legumes are a perfect protein choice, and it’s important that Australians understand the value of enjoying more legumes in their diet,” she said.

Ms Guy believes, however, that more can be done. “Given the many nutrition and health benefits of legumes, they are an ideal choice of protein for all Australians, but listing them after lean meat as a protein source doesn’t reflect this priority,” she said. 

The dietary modelling and dietary guideline document also recommends a 20 per cent decrease in red meat intake for adult males.

“In fact, the guidelines reveal a recommended maximum amount of red meat. . . of no more than 455g per week,” Ms Guy said. “This recommended maximum amount . . . equates to a very small 65g serve each day, or several red meat-free days each week. What better way to reduce red meat intake than by including more legume-based dishes on the menu? Sanitarium believes the foods listed in the protein group should be given in priority order, with legumes topping the list.”

Ms Guy said much had been made, in public discussions, of the idea that young women need to eat more red meat. “However, it’s well established that if women choose to eat little or no red meat, a plant-based diet offers many iron-rich foods sufficient to meet their requirements,” she said.

“When looking at nutrition, it’s vital to also consider how our food choices impact the environment. It’s disappointing to see that this has been included in an appendix to the ADG, and not fully integrated into the guidelines themselves.”

The ADG also include recommendations for eating a variety of core foods, including grain foods, preferably wholegrains and high cereal fibre varieties, such as breakfast cereals, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley. Sanitarium supports the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council recommendation to consume 48g of wholegrains each day.

Sanitarium has a range of resources to help people enjoy more wholesome plant foods. Visit <>.