Dietitians are urging Australians to eat their way to good health by tapping into wholegrains and highﬁbre cereal foods, as new research shows most of us take in just half of what we need.
In the ﬁrst study of its kind, researchers from the University of Wollongong put together a database of more than 1900 foods containing cereal ﬁ bre, then used this to track how much cereal ﬁbre Australians eat.
The highest contributors were breakfast cereals, bread and bread rolls. Lead researcher Eden Barrett, who last month presented the ﬁndings at the Dietitians Association of Australia’s National Conference in Hobart, said the results were concerning, with few people consuming enough cereal ﬁ bre.
“Adults had an average of 6.4 g of cereal ﬁ bre a day, which is the equivalent of only two serves of higher ﬁ bre grain foods, just half of what many adults need,” said Ms Barrett, an accredited practising dietitian.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines suggest adults should aim for four to six serves of grain foods a day, with a serve being one slice (40 g) of bread, half a cup of cooked rice, pasta or oats, and quarter of a cup of muesli, and we should aim to choose the wholegrain, high-ﬁbre choices within this food group.
Despite the resurgence in popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, the research found few people were “grain avoiders”, yet many still fell short on cereal ﬁbre.
Ms Barrett said quality was the key, with wholegrain products offering more cereal ﬁ bre and superior health beneﬁ ts compared with reﬁ ned products.
“People who ate the least cereal ﬁ bre were getting what little they ate from white bread and crumbed or battered foods and dishes, which are low-ﬁ bre foods,” Ms Barrett said.
“What this tells us is that their diet is heavy on processed grain foods, which can have as little as a third of the cereal ﬁ bre of healthier wholegrain foods.”
Dietitians Association of Australia president Liz Kellett said the research highlighted an opportunity for many Australians to boost their health and wellbeing.
“Fibre is key for good health, and while we can get it from a whole range of foods, we know that cereal ﬁbre speciﬁcally is protective against heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer,” she said.
Do you get enough cereal fibre? Let us know your tips for eating more in the comments below.