Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Australian Aboriginal plant foods: a consideration of their nutritional composition and health implications

  • Janette C. Brand-Miller (a1) and Susanne H. A. Holt (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

For at least 40–50 000 years, plants played an important but supplementary role in the animal-dominated diet of Australian Aboriginal (AA) hunter-gatherers. New knowledge of the nutrient composition and the special physiological effects of their foods provides another perspective in the current debate on the composition of the ‘prudent’ diet and the diet on which humans evolved. In the present paper we have calculated the average nutrient composition of over 800 Aboriginal plant foods (in total and by food group) and highlighted the differences between these and modern cultivated foods. The data enable us to calculate the absolute contribution of plant foods to total food and nutrient intake of traditional living AA. If plants provided 20–40% of the energy in the diet (the most likely range), then plants would have contributed 22–44g protein, 18–36g fat, 101–202g carbohydrate, 40–80g fibre and 90–180mg vitamin C in a 12500kJ (3000 kcal) diet. Since all the carbohydrate came from plant foods, the traditional AA diet would have been relatively low in carbohydrate (especially starch) but high in dietary fibre in comparison with current recommendations. Over half the carbohydrate could have been in the form of sugars derived from fruit and honey. The low glycaemic index of their carbohydrate foods, however, would generate a relatively low demand for insulin secretion and this characteristic may have protected AA from a genetic predisposition to insulin resistance and its consequences (non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, obesity). The dietary pattern and active lifestyle of recent hunter-gatherers such as AA may be a reference standard for modem human nutrition and a model for defence against diseases of affluence.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Australian Aboriginal plant foods: a consideration of their nutritional composition and health implications
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Australian Aboriginal plant foods: a consideration of their nutritional composition and health implications
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Australian Aboriginal plant foods: a consideration of their nutritional composition and health implications
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All
J. B. Cleland & T. H. Johnston (1937). Notes on native names and use of plants in the Musgrave Ranges. Oceania 8, 208215.

R. A. Gould (1969). Subsistence behaviour among the Western Desert Aborigines of Australia. Oceania 39, 253274.

F. R. Irvine (1957). Wild and emergency foods of Australian and Tasmanian Aborigines. Oceania 28, 113142.

M. Kliks (1978). Paleodietetics: a review of the role of dietary fiber in preagricultural human diets. In Topics in Dietary Fiber Reseach, pp. 181202 [ G. A. Spiller and R. F. Amen , editors]. New York: Plenum Press.

T. Low (1991). Wild Food Plants of Australia. Pymble, NSW, Australia: Angus & Robertson.

D. R. Murray , W. J. Ashcroft , R. D. Seppelt & F. G. Lennox (1978). Comparative biochemical and morphological studies of Acacia sophorae (Labill.) R. Br. and A. longifolia (Andrews) Willd. Australian Journal of Botany 26, 755771.

J. Salmeron , J. E. Manson , M. J. Stampfer , G. A. Colditz , A. L. Wing & W. C. Willet (1997 b). Dietary fiber, glycemic load and risk of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in women. Journal of the American Medical Association 277, 472477.

P. Zimmet (1982). Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes–an epidemiological overview. Diabetologia 22, 399409.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Nutrition Research Reviews
  • ISSN: 0954-4224
  • EISSN: 1475-2700
  • URL: /core/journals/nutrition-research-reviews
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 5
Total number of PDF views: 463 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1097 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.