Can Bush Tucker Reduce the Burden of Heart Disease and Diabetes?

“A diet richer in kangaroo, emu, seafood and bush tucker, such as bush pears and yams, would help cut the burden of heart disease and diabetes in some Aboriginal communities” reports the West Australian newspaper. The co-ordinator of Aboriginal programs for the Heart Foundation (Western Australia), Lyn Dimer says messages to eat five serves of vegies and two of fruit each day were not being heard in remote communities. Also the storage capacity of fresh foods, availability and prohibitive costs were limiting factors.

I can vouch for the cost of fresh fruit. With deliveries perhaps held up by bad weather, the fresh produce does not always look so flash when it reaches us. And sometimes I wonder if these and the frozen meats that are sent out to us as they might not be the best quality, but we are too far away to complain and our need so much we cannot send it back. Perhaps not – but I wonder.

Bush Tucker is still an important part of the diet out here and to supplement it ‘roo tails from kangaroos shot in NSW make their way to us in the freezer truck. Lyn is encouraging aboriginal people in rural and remote communities to maintain their bush foods as it is healthy tucker. However there can be limitations on where they can hunt and some foods including plants, are becoming extinct.


In desert country where there are now large cattle stations and a traditionally nomadic people are limited to a small part of their traditional country it may be difficult to find sufficient bush tucker without depleting the resource.

Witchetty Grubs

Also not to be overlooked is the benefits of collecting your food. Digging a two foot hole for your feed of witchetty (or bardee) grubs or tracking a kangaroo or Perentie (a lizard that may grow to more than 2.5 metres) for kilometres is also beneficial for reducing your blood sugar levels.

But none of this is nothing really new. There is a booklet available titled “Bush Tucker in Kidney Failure and Diabetes” that lists traditional bush foods from around Australia. It lists the taxonomic name, common name, a breakdown of energy, protein, fat, water, carbohydrates and minerals, with room for you to write the local name of the foodstuff. It also tells you what part of the plant or food you eat. In some cases it may be the leaf, fruit or animal organ.

Now this is one detailed breakdown. Look at the Bogong Moth. The booklet gives a breakdown of nutrients for the abdomen and the wings seperately, but also a breakdown of nutrient value for the whole moth. Now that’s detail you gotta love.

The booklet can be ordered or downloaded from the Kidney Health Australia Website

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Robbo is a pharmacist working with a very remote Aboriginal Health Service in the deserts of Western Australia. + Andrew Robbo Roberts

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