Monday, December 2, 2019

Is plant-based meat all it’s cracked up to be?

Plant-based meats are booming on supermarket shelves, with our latest Australian-first study showing that the category has grown a massive five-fold in number - up 429% - since just 2015. There are now a staggering 137 products on the shelf, ranging from ‘bleeding’ burgers, to nut roasts and plant-based tuna.
This research was published in October in the International journal Nutrients* and was presented at the Nutrition Society of Australia conference in Newcastle in early December. Data was collected from the four major Australian supermarkets, comparing plant-based meats to their animal-based equivalents.
Researchers found that plant-based meats were generally lower in kilojoules, fats and protein and higher in carbohydrates and dietary fibre in comparison to their traditional animal-based meats. 
One third of the products captured were made with protein-rich legumes such as beans and lentils, while 20% of plant-based burgers contained whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. GLNC Nutrition Manager Felicity Curtain points to these findings as opportunities to bridge gaps in the Australian diet.
“We know convenience is a major barrier to eating both whole grains and legumes, so if you’re looking at plant-based meats, choosing one made with these ingredients may be an easy step to getting more of these short-fall foods into your diet.”
But there is room for improvement in the category, with plant-based mince six times higher in sodium than its traditional counterpart, and less than a quarter of products fortified with nutrients like Vitamin B12, Iron, and Zinc, which are naturally contained in many animal-based meats.
Based on these findings, GLNC are calling for more guidance in the development of plant-based meats, alongside input from nutrition professionals to ensure consumers can make healthy choices at the supermarket shelf.
The plant-protein trend is predicted to continue well into 2020 and beyond; the impacts of which may be a ‘win-win’ for our health and the environment.
“Plant-based foods like beans, legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds, and whole grains are packed with nutrition, and have a smaller environmental impact compared to animal products,” said Ms Curtain.
Although some of the plant-based meats contain valuable nutrients from the whole grain and legume ingredients and offer a convenient option, it's also beneficial to choose protein-rich whole foods on occasion too. Enjoying half a cup, or 100g, of beans, peas or lentils provides a valuable protein boost. 

Alternatively, making your own plant-based burgers with a variety of whole grains and legumes is an excellent choice. Take a look at just how easy it is by trying our delicious Black Bean Burgers  or McKenzies Supergrain Burgers for dinner tonight!

*Curtain, F.; Grafenauer, S. Plant-Based Meat Substitutes in the Flexitarian Age: An Audit of Products on Supermarket Shelves. Nutrients 2019, 11, 2603.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Choose the simple whole grain swap backed by global research!

In Australia, Nordic nations are best known for their chilly climate, flat-pack furniture, and addictive TV crime shows, but why not their whole grain habits? This Whole Grain Week, we’re encouraging you to eat like the Danish – who enjoy more than three times the amount of whole grain than most Aussies!

Our second Whole Grain Week (17-23 June) is all about spreading the word on how important whole grain foods are in our diet, inspiring Australians to make simple swaps for big health benefits and switch up their whole grain variety. And this year we're encouraging you to take the Whole Grain Challenge.

Whole grain foods like brown rice, pasta, oats, and wholemeal bread are packed with nutrition, and there’s good evidence that people who eat them regularly are less likely to develop heart disease, type 2 diabetes, even bowel cancer.

But unfortunately few Australians eat enough; 59% of us choose refined grains, eating an average of just 21g whole grain per day – less than half the recommended 48g Daily Target Intake.

The ‘New Nordic Diet,’ is one of the latest diets where whole grain foods feature heavily - think rye bread, oats, and barley, so it will come as no surprise that Danes devour an average of 63 grams of whole grain each day – trebling the Aussie effort!

Most of us know whole grain foods are full of fibre, but Accredited Practising Dietitians Alex Parker and Anna Debenham from The Biting Truth say there’s actually much more to it. “Whole grains are little nutrition powerhouses, delivering more than 26 nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, fibre, even antioxidants.”

So why don’t we eat more whole grain? For many Australians, it comes down to the extra time it may take to cook whole grains, as well as simply being in the habit of choosing refined grains like white bread, rice, and pasta. So how can you enjoy the health benefits of eating more, without compromising on taste or time? Themis Chryssidis and Callum Hann, from Sprout Cooking School say a bit of prior planning is key:

“Many whole grain varieties actually only take an average of just 4 minutes longer to cook than white varieties. But you can cut cooking time further by soaking grains like freekeh or brown rice overnight, or for a few hours in advance. You could also cook a big batch of whole grains on a free afternoon and freeze individual portions in snap-lock bags or containers – ready to throw in your lunch bag or defrost for dinner!” says Themis, an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

The duo also suggest checking out the expanding grains section in the supermarket, which is bursting with convenient microwaveable products and interesting new varieties – think quinoa/rice mixes, wild rice and every colour rice you can imagine - red, black, purple, barley, teff, amaranth, buckwheat and many more.

So why not try a few simple swaps this Whole Grain Week to boost your health, without compromising on taste or time. Check out our handy ready reckoner to see how you can reach your 48g every day!

The Biting Truth’s top three whole grain nutrition benefits!

1. Eating whole grains protects our health in the long-term, against things like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer. 

2. Choosing whole grain foods may help with weight maintenance: people who eat whole grains regularly are likely to have a healthy weight and waist circumference.

3. They’re great for our gut: the fibre in whole grains ‘feeds’ our good gut bacteria, which may improve our health in other ways – controlling our appetite, reducing inflammation, and boosting immunity. 

Try these delicious recipes to help you hit your whole grain target!

These delicious Baked Oats are a breakfast the whole family will love.
Enjoy a classic for lunch with an Egg & Lettuce Sandwich on wholemeal bread.
Make a batch of these Corn & Zucchini Muffins to tide you over for morning or afternoon tea!
For dinner, this Freekeh, Lentil & Bean Salad makes a great stand-alone or side dish with fish.

For more information on Whole Grain Week or to find out how you can help spread the whole grain message, visit our website here.

Monday, February 4, 2019

More peas please!

Sunday 10 February is the first ever World Pulses Day, celebrating all things beans, peas and lentils across the globe. We're singing the praises of the humble pea - often overlooked as a legume - peas are an easy and tasty way of upping your veggie and legume intake.

Peas are packed full of essential nutrients to help maintain our health, including fibre - just 1/2 cup of peas provides us with a fifth of our daily fibre intake.
1 cup of legumes provides us with... World Pulses Day website
Fresh, frozen or dried, there's a recipe to suit, so give peas a chance this World Pulses Day and take inspiration from our 10 ways with peas...

1. Add a sprinkle of green peas to your pasta

2. Pep up your salad and add some fresh green peas for a summery feel

3. Smash those peas and use to top your toast!

4. Pack your stir-fry with a pea punch

5. Easy peasy dip made easy!

6. Colour your breakfast with green by adding to your omelette!

7. No avocados? No problem! Try guacamole-pea by using fresh green peas for a light alternative

8. Looking for something different to try for a lazy brunch this weekend? Then why not give pea pancakes a bash?

9. Snack happy on yummy and crunchy roasted peas

10. Add to a frittata for a quick and fuss free reciPEA!

We recommend eating 1/2 cup of legumes 2-3 times a week to benefit from all the nutrients legumes provide. However you celebrate World Pulses Day this weekend, add a handful of beans, peas or lentils to your dish and enjoy! 

For more ways to enjoy legumes like black beans, chickpeas and legumes, read our article here.

Friday, February 1, 2019

The top four food trends for 2019...

With 2019 well underway, we've taken a look at some of the biggest trends affecting grains and legumes this year...

1. Digestive Wellness

Digestive wellness is once again the number one trend for the coming year and with good reason. Emerging research, media attention and consumer demand is driving this trend, with prebiotics and fibre leading the way for innovation.

Pushing the fibre trend, resistant starch (RS) - a specific type of fibre - looks set to hit the mainstream in the very near future - only recently promoted on pack and in general media, RS looks set to redefine the future of fibre, appealing to younger consumers and Millennials.

FODMAPs are making their mark too, with this trend now being forecast as the next gluten free - new to FODMAPs? Find out more in our latest hot topic here.

2. Plant-Based 
Another consistent trend and one that’s unlikely to be going anywhere soon, plant-based presents opportunities for everyone in the food industry.
Snacking in particular is a key sub-driver for the plant-based trend (previously a top 5 trend in its own right) with most consumers not only wanting to snack more frequently, but wanting to snack better and include more veggies. Convenience plays a big part here, specifically for young consumers.

Advances in technology are also helping drive this trend, with many fruits, vegetables and legumes now being used in previously unthinkable formats - the proliferation of ‘healthier’ alternatives to chips is a key example, with chickpeas, lentils and peas increasingly being used in place of potatoes.
3. Good Carbs, Bad Carbs

With the ketogenic diet currently a media focus and a recent survey revealing that 25% of Australians are avoiding carbs(1), the low-carb diet is still very much on our radar.

In recent years though, the message has been one of balance rather than exclusion, with ‘quality’ carbohydrates being shown as an essential part of a healthy diet. This has led to the evolution of the idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbs, the former generally including whole grains, vegetables and fruits and the latter consisting of refined carbohydrates like biscuits, doughnuts and other 'non-whole grain' grain foods.

While there is undoubtedly a way to go on general perception of carbohydrates, for now both the public and the media are moving in the right direction with a focus on ‘quality’ carbs.  

Find out more on the merits of carbs in a balanced diet here and how carbs can assist with sports performance here. Plus our hot topic on the Ketogenic Diet delves into the pros and cons of this controversial diet - read more here.

4. Authenticity and Provenance

The trend for product provenance has been growing at a steady rate for the last few years, and is now just beginning to take off as many mainstream consumers buy into the trend.

Several factors have helped push this trend, perhaps one of the most important being a move back towards a more traditional style of eating for younger consumers. Generation X and Millennials particularly seek a point of difference in their food.

Industry has also taken a big step in promoting these products with the realisation that products with a story offer more to many consumers and help to foster connections between people and industry. The popularity of sourdough bread is a prime example of the provenance trend making an everyday product exceptional.

To find out more about other current trends like Snacking and the New Nordic Diet, simply search our blog!

1. New Nutrition Business. 2018. 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2019.