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aussie fruit and veg

Australians need to eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables in order to prevent chronic diseases and promote overall health and well-being.

Although healthy food costs have increased relative to unhealthy ones in Australia over the last 15 years (Burns), many Australians are struggling to afford their recommended daily fruit and vegetable intake.

What is a serve?

A serve is the standard size defined by the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE) for each of the five food groups, indicating how much energy and key nutrients a particular type of food provides you.

Your daily serve requirements depend on factors like height, weight and age. At any one time you may require more or fewer serves from each group than is typically recommended; as a general guideline however you should aim for approximately equal numbers from all three categories each day.

At the intersection of energy and nutrients, one category you should feel most proud of serving is ‘discretionary’ or energy-dense food such as milk, cheese, nuts, grains and legumes. These dishes pack plenty of kilojoules while still providing essential protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre benefits.

Your best serve could consist of any combination of these foods that meets both your taste and energy requirements at any given moment. An effective strategy for this is selecting meals and snacks that are easy to prepare, satisfying and offer a wide selection of textures, tastes and colors. Lighter options like salad vegetables or smaller servings of meat could also work well here. Drink water instead of sugary drinks to save on calories and save kilojoules. Make the most of “discretionary” or energy-dense foods by including them in meals and snacks – whether that means adding fruit to your cereal bowl at breakfast time or topping muesli with grated cheese and avocado for a light lunchtime treat.

How many serves do I need every day?

Dietary guidelines suggest two fruits and five vegetables daily as recommended, but unfortunately 45% of Australians don’t meet that recommendation – which has serious ramifications on health and wellbeing.

Fruit and veg consumption has long been touted as one of the best ways to prevent disease, manage cholesterol levels and weight, protect against cancers and diabetes and extend our lives for longer and healthier living. Eating plenty of fruits and veg may not only prevent disease but can also help manage weight and cholesterol levels as well as protect against cancer and diabetes, making this diet rich with fruit and veg one of the keys to longer and healthier lives.

As part of our “Go for 2&5” campaign, we aim to make it simpler and easier for everyone to meet their recommended intake of fruits and vegetables by offering free online factsheets and printable versions of Australian Dietary Guidelines that serve as starting points.

NHMRC 2013 Dietary Guidelines advise children, adolescents and adults alike to consume at least two servings of fruit and five of vegetables daily in order to promote good nutrition and overall health. Your specific serving requirements may depend on factors like age and gender as well as lifestyle preferences and other aspects.

However, most Australians don’t consume enough fruit and veg in their diet – which poses a threat as these essential components play a pivotal role in disease prevention and weight management. A recent national survey showed that 45.56% of women and 56.4% of men do not consume sufficient fruit.

Fruit and veg are important, healthy foods that can benefit both our hearts and brains, help manage weight, and contain important vitamins and minerals that may protect us against disease. Unfortunately, we’re eating too few of them! And that is a real shame because fruit and veg provide important benefits that could protect us against future illness.

Make it part of every meal and snack you consume; try new fruits and veggies to increase their presence in your diet by exploring new colours and varieties.

As another way of increasing the fruit and veg you consume, try preparing them differently. For instance, try blending soft fruit like bananas and strawberries with skim milk, yoghurt and ice for a low fat fruit smoothie, or add chopped dried fruit such as apricots or apples to your couscous dishes as toppings.

How do I get more vegies into my diet?

Introducing more vegetables into your diet could provide key vitamins and nutrients essential for good health and reducing chronic disease risks. Vegetables should form part of a healthy eating pattern; experts advise aiming to consume at least five serves daily of vegetables.

Many people struggle to incorporate vegetables into their diet, whether because of selective eaters or simply not knowing how to prepare the vegetable in an appealing way.

Vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help defend against heart disease and cancer. Plus they’re an excellent source of fiber which speeds digestion while helping nutrients reach our bodies more quickly.

1. Increase Your Fruit and Vegetable Intake With Dips and Sauces

It is possible to incorporate vegetables into almost all foods – such as bread, cheese, meat and potatoes – by enhancing them with dips such as hummus, salsa or guacamole. Doing this will make them more delicious as snacks; and eventually you’ll probably find yourself eating more of these important nutrients more often!

2. Add Flavor To Vegetable Dishes Registered Dietitians Tamie Shaw and Jessie Shafer offer several ideas on how spices and herbs can enhance vegetable dishes: “You could try swapping out regular cheese for goat or sheep cheese, using curry instead of basil in salads, or adding fresh herbs for pasta dishes like mac and cheese or roast broccoli – they all love adding fresh herbs for flavor!”

3. Add Vegetables Into Breakfast Sweets

Incorporate vegetables into breakfast sweets to add an extra dose of nutrients and color. Using pureed spinach in brownie batter for an energizing, tasty snack may have you thinking it is dessert all day long!

4. Add Vegetables to Rice and Noodles

One easy way to increase vegetable intake is to replace regular rice with cooked “riced cauliflower”, saving calories while still providing similar nutrition. This strategy also works great when making sauces!

What is a serve of fruit?

A “serve” is the standard measurement for fruit, vegetables and salad. A medium-sized apple or pear, one small banana, several grapes or four large strawberries is considered one “serve”. These foods also help support eye and dental health!

Your need for fruit will depend on several factors, such as age, weight, gender and lifestyle; however an average Australian should consume at least two cups per day in order to remain healthy.

Selecting fruits that contain vitamins, minerals and fibre is key for good health, including lower risks for heart disease and cancer. Fruit is packed with these benefits!

Some of the most effective ways to boost your intake include increasing intake with fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain foods like rice or pasta, or nutrient-rich dairy products such as yoghurt.

As a rule of thumb, aim to fill half your plate with vegetables and one third with fruit and veg – by selecting various types, sizes and colours of fruits and veggies.

For this to work, you may have to get creative in the kitchen. Try new salad, soup or curry recipes while being mindful to include extra fruits and veggies into each meal.

Making smart food choices, like eating enough fruits and vegetables and drinking water, will enable you to meet daily nutritional requirements without adding unnecessary pounds or compromising taste and enjoyment. Recognizing when enough has been eaten is paramount so as not to cause discomfort in the form of stomach upset or the need for another snack!

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