The Australian Dietary Guidelines encourage Australians to eat legumes such as beans, lentils and chickpeas as part of a healthy diet.
Legumes contain fibre as well as vitamins and minerals so they can be counted as a vegetable. They are also a source of protein so are a good alternative to meat and fish.
A factsheet has been developed to help incorporate legumes into a healthy diet. To download a copy click here.
How often should I eat legumes?
GLNC recommends Australians enjoy legumes at least 2 – 3 times each week. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend:
- five or six serves of vegetables including legumes each day
- two or three serves of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds and legumes / beans each day
Legumes are recommended for children and adults of all ages, including as first foods for infants. The Guidelines state that ‘Pureed and mashed vegetables, including legumes are important in the diets for infants from around six months of age’.
What is a ‘serve’ of legumes?
It depends on if you are eating legumes as a vegetable or as an alternative to meat:
- As a vegetable one serve is 75g (1/2 cup) cooked dried or canned beans, chickpeas or lentils, no added salt, OR
- As an alternative to meat one serve is 1 cup (150g) cooked dried beans lentils, chickpeas, split peas or canned beans OR 170g tofu.
Australians are not eating enough legumes
The Australian Dietary Guidelines notes that Australians are only eating half the recommended 5 serves of vegetables a day and not including a wide enough variety. To meet the new recommendations, Australians need to increase their intake of vegetables including legumes by 30% and replace starchy vegetables with other vegetables and legumes.
In particular, legume intake is very low in Australia. Surveys indicate that Australians eat on average less than one third of a serve of legumes a week, and only 35% of people eat legumes regularly.
For more information on the Australian Dietary Guidelines click here.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines are general recommendations for healthy people. For individual nutrition and dietary advice see an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). To find a dietitian near you visit the Dietitians Association of Australia.