Legumes—A Comprehensive Exploration of Global Food-Based Dietary Guidelines and Consumption

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Despite the well-known human and planetary health benefits of legumes, consumption is often low. This scoping review aimed to evaluate the inclusion of legumes in global food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG), and to review consumption data against global food group classifications for legumes. The review of FBDG from 94 countries identified legume-based key messaging, the key terms used to define legumes, recommended serving size and frequency of consumption and the classification of legumes into food groups as depicted by food guides. The 2018 Global Dietary Database isolated consumption data of legumes and beans using individual-level, nationally representative dietary survey data for matched countries. Food-based dietary guidelines from 40/94 countries most often identified legumes utilising the term legumes, followed by beans (n = 13), pulses (n = 10), or as beans, peas and lentils (n = 5). The serving size recommendations for legume consumption varied widely, and there was no consistency in the suggested frequency of consumption. Median bean and legume consumption for countries with FBDG ranged from 1.2 g/d (Norway) to 122.7 g/d (Afghanistan). Classification of legumes into food groups varied, with 38% of countries categorising legumes in the protein-rich food group, 20% were in a group on their own and 15% were in the starchy staples group. In countries where legumes were together with either nuts or seeds had the greatest range in intake (11.6–122.7 g/day), followed by those that grouped legumes together with protein-rich foods (4.0–104.7 g/day), while countries that grouped legumes into two food groups, in an attempt to promote consumption, tended to have a lower consumption. Greater emphasis and perhaps repositioning of legumes in dietary guidelines may be required to encourage consumption for health, environmental and economic benefits.

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