Expansion of an Australian food composition database to estimate plant and animal intakes

Publication Name

British Journal of Nutrition


Despite evidence for favourable health outcomes associated with plant-based diets, a database containing the plant and animal content of all foods eaten is required to undertake a reliable assessment of plant-based diets within a population. This study aimed to expand an existing Australian food database to include the plant and animal content of all whole foods, beverages, multi-ingredient products and mixed dishes. Twenty-three plant- and animal-based food group classifications were first defined. The food servings per 100g of each product were then systematically calculated using either a recipe-based approach, a food label-based approach, estimates based on similar products or online recipes. Overall, 4,687 (83.5%) foods and beverages were identified as plant or plant-containing products, and 3,701 (65.9%) were animal or animal-containing products. Results highlighted the versatility of plant and animal ingredients as they were found in various foods across many food categories, including savoury and sweet foods, as well as discretionary and core foods. For example, over 97% of animal fat-containing foods were found in major food groups outside the AUSNUT 2011-13 'fats and oils' group. Surprisingly, fruits, nuts and seeds were present in a greater percentage of discretionary products than in core foods and beverages. This paper describes a systematic approach that is suitable for the development of other novel food databases. This database allows more accurate quantitative estimates of plant and animal intakes, which is significant for future epidemiological and clinical research aiming to investigate plant-based diets and their related health outcomes.

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