A survey into the nutritional knowledge and habits of Kiwis has found half of New Zealanders are confused by food trends and an overload of diet information.*

The survey of 1,055 New Zealanders, undertaken on behalf of Fonterra looked into people’s understanding of dairy nutrition and the role of protein. The survey uncovered some interesting insights as to where we get our nutritional information from, who we trust, and just how much we understand.

Results found that 74% of Kiwis believe protein is important for their health, but only 11% say they know how much protein they need in a day. Of the 11%, the answers ranged from 5g to 1,200g per day as the amount required for optimal health.

Fonterra’s General Manager of Nutrition, Angela Rowan, says, “As Kiwis we have access to an amazing array of fresh high quality and locally produced protein sources, however, it would appear we’re all a bit confused about just how much protein we need to be at our best and how we can include protein in our diet.”

“To be fair to people, the amount of protein we each need depends on our age, gender and physical activity levels. But as a guide, we should be aiming to get between 15-25% of our energy from protein, so for someone consuming around 2,000 calories (8,360kJ) across the course of the day, they should be getting somewhere in the range of 75g – 120g of protein per day.”

There was also confusion around what foods contain protein and the best way to consume protein; 54% of respondents said protein should be consumed only once a day, or less.

“Protein is very important, but more than half of the people surveyed didn’t realise that protein should be consumed throughout the day for optimum health. While nutrients like fat and carbohydrate can be stored in our bodies and easily dipped into, protein is only stored as muscle, so if protein is not available, muscle mass will be broken down to supply it. This is why it’s ideal to consume protein regularly in smaller amounts throughout the day and stay topped up, rather than having it as a single large portion at night,” says Angela.

While most respondents generally had a good grasp of most food groups that are rich in protein, Kiwis largely underestimated dairy as a source of protein.

“When asked to rank the protein content of foods from highest to lowest, survey respondents placed a glass of milk near the bottom, believing it contained less protein than 1 egg or ½ a cup of lentils. In reality, it actually sits above these foods in terms of protein content, and this is something we would like to make more people aware of,” she says.

Dairy is a high quality, readily available, and affordable source of protein. Dairy can provide a convenient source of protein especially in the morning and at lunchtime.

“Popping a scoop of yoghurt on your muesli, having a latte for morning tea, and a few slices of cheese for afternoon tea are all easy ways to help spread your protein intake throughout the day,” says Angela.

For the full survey results click the link below.


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