Socio-ecological barriers and motivators to dry pulse consumption among low-income women in Iowa

Palmer, Shelly
Major Professor
Donna M. Winham
Committee Member
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Food Science and Human Nutrition

Introduction: Low-socioeconomic populations have increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. There are numerous challenges these households may come across such as restraints on time, funds, and resources for food purchasing decisions. Individual nutrition knowledge, household wants, food availability in the community, and nutrition policies affect foods purchased and consumed. Four nutrients currently under-consumed by the US population include potassium, fiber, calcium, and iron which are labeled as nutrients of concern by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. A nutrient dense food that provides a good amount of fiber, protein, and several micronutrients are pulses, or dry, edible varieties of beans, peas, and lentils. The current pulse intake in the US is à ½- 1 cup per week which is well below the recommendations of 2-3 cups/week for men and 1.5-2 cups/week for women.

Objectives: The goals of this thesis are to 1) determine socioecological barriers and motivators to legume consumption; 2) assess the knowledge regarding health benefits of pulses among low-socioeconomic women in Iowa; and 3) determine current pulse consumption.

Conclusions: Results from the knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions survey and focus group qualitative analyses indicate knowledge gaps in the health benefits of pulses. According to dietary assessment screeners, current pulse consumption is very low among the US population. Acculturation patterns show Hispanic-dominant participants having greater pulse consumption as compared to English-dominant participants. Community factors illustrate great availability of pulses in grocery stores. Interpersonal and individual barriers include: limited knowledge of preparation methods, specific health benefits of beans, and household influences.

These mixed method results can be used to develop a nutrition education plan including a hands-on demonstration with recipes on how to incorporate pulses into individual's everyday diets. By increasing participant's pulse consumption, the prevalence of chronic disease may decrease and the nutritional quality may rise.