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Health benefits one reason to love legumes

Adding lentils to your favourite meals is one way of getting more legumes into your diet.
Photo: Paul Jones

Legumes such as beans, lentils, peas and soy foods are an important part of a healthy diet for all Australians.

While legumes might be small, they are nutritional powerhouses, delivering essential nutrients, including protein, B vitamins, folate, dietary fibre, iron and zinc. If Australian adults incorporated just 50 grams of legumes into their daily diet, $85 million could be saved annually in direct costs of coronary heart disease, according to research published in the Nutrients journal.

Yet, most Australians are falling short of this recommended intake, averaging about 19.3 grams of legumes per day.

GLNC supermarket survey

To understand the current legume market, the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) conducted a comprehensive analysis of the category across major supermarkets in New South Wales in October 2023.

The GLNC analysed a total of 359 products, which included canned, dried and frozen legumes, baked beans, tofu and tempeh. From 2021, there was a 12.1 per cent increase in the total number of legume products.

Canned legumes were the most commonly available type, accounting for more than 40 per cent of products, while dried legumes experienced a decline of 14.7 per cent. This shift reflects evolving consumer preferences for convenient and time-saving food options.

As Australians seek accessible and affordable foods, legumes emerge as a practical solution to meet these needs while providing nutritional benefits.

To add more legumes to your diet, try adding a quarter of a cup of lentils, black beans or chickpeas to your favourite meals, including bolognese, tacos or curries, at least three times a week.

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