THIS PAGE IS COURTESY OF AUSTRALIA HEALTHY WEIGHT WEEK
Fruit and vegetables are some of nature’s super foods, packed with a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are great for your health. The Dietitians Association of Australia encourages all Australians over four years of age to go for 2 & 5 (two pieces of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day).
Fruit and vegetables contain a wide variety of nutrients that are essential for good health including vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, iron, fibre, carbohydrate and water. Their fibre content and low kilojoule content makes them filling and perfect to keep a healthy body weight. Most also have a low glycaemic index (GI), which means they release their carbohydrates slowly into the blood, which is beneficial in diabetes, weight management and heart disease.
Eating adequate fruit and vegetables is essential for preventing a wide variety of health conditions, including:
- Cancer – In Australia 11% of all cancers are thought to be related to people not eating enough fruit and vegetables. It’s not just one component in fruit and vegetables that help prevent cancer. Instead it is thought that many different components such as vitamins, antioxidants, phytoestrogens and fibre work together to help prevent cancer.
- Cholesterol and blocked arteries – eating plenty of fruit and vegetables can help reduce high cholesterol and reduce the risk of blocked arteries. Soluble fibre (pectin), flavanoids, antioxidant vitamins, phytoestrogens and trace minerals are all thought to be important in reducing the risk of blocked arteries.
- High blood pressure – plenty of fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy diet can substantially lower blood pressure. This also helps protect against heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
- Healthy babies – fruit and vegetables are a great source of folate. It is thought that at least two thirds of the cases of spina bifida could be prevented by women having enough folate one month prior to pregnancy and in the first three months of pregnancy. *A folate supplement of 400mg per day is recommended in addition to a healthy diet one month before and during the first three months of pregnancy.
What is a serve of fruit?
A serve of fruit is considered to be:
- One medium sized fruit such as apple, peach, banana, mango, pear
- Two pieces of the smaller fruits such as apricots, passionfruit, kiwifruit
- A cup of fresh fruit such as strawberry or diced melon or pineapple
- One and a half tablespoons of dried fruit or 4 dried apricots
- Half a cup of fruit juice
- Most Australians don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables each day. So remember to ‘Go for 2 & 5’ and eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day.
Ideas for eating more fruit
- Slice fresh fruit over breakfast cereal or porridge
- Make a delicious fruit smoothie with fresh fruit, some low fat milk and some low fat yoghurt
- Add fruit to cakes and muffins
- Make a delicious fruit based dessert such as a fruit crumble with apple and rhubarb, bake an apple and serve with low fat custard or poach seasonal fruit such as pears or stone fruit
- Keep some fresh fruit at work or school for a quick and easy snack. Perhaps you could ask your workplace to supply fruit as well as biscuits for coffee breaks
- Make a delicious fresh fruit platter for breakfast, a snack or for dessert
- Freeze fresh fruit by itself or mixed with yoghurt for a refreshing summer snack
- Dice fresh fruit and keep in a container in the fridge so it is a quick convenient snack – this works well with fresh melon
- Thread fresh fruit onto skewers and serve with yoghurt for a delicious colourful snack
What is a serve of vegetables?
A serve of vegetables is considered to be:
- Half a cup of cooked vegetables
- A cup of fresh salad; or
- A medium potato
Ideas for eating more vegetables
- Serve chopped fresh vegetables with salsa or low fat dip for a healthy snack
- Add vegetables to breakfast by adding mushrooms, asparagus and tomatoes to omelettes or having these vegetables braised on toast
- Ask for extra salad in a sandwich or roll for lunch or take a big fresh salad in a container to work to have with lunch
- Grow a vegetable garden if you have the space. This is great exercise and the whole family can enjoy the fresh vegetables straight from the garden
- Grate vegetables into pasta sauces or homemade hamburger patties
- Add extra vegetables to casseroles, soups and stir-fry
- Lightly brush vegetable slices with olive oil and cook on the barbeque. This works great for eggplant and zucchini.
- Add vegetables such as carrot and zucchini to muffins and cakes
- Thread vegetable pieces onto skewers with lean meat, chicken or tofu and grill or BBQ
Creative Fruit and Vegetables for Kids
Encourage children to enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables by thinking outside the square. By being a little creative with your preparation, you will be surprised how easy it is to encourage your children to enjoy fruits and vegetables. Try these creative tips on your children:
- Make a delicious fruit smoothie with fresh fruit, some milk and yoghurt.
- Make a delicious fresh fruit platter for breakfast, a snack or for dessert.
- Freeze fresh fruit by itself or mixed with yoghurt for a refreshing summer snack.
- Dice fresh fruit and keep in a container in the fridge so it is a quick convenient snack, this works well with fresh melon.
- Thread fresh fruit onto skewers and serve with yoghurt for a delicious and colourful snack.
- Serve chopped fresh vegetables with salsa or low fat dip for a healthy snack.
- Grow a vegetable garden if you have the space. This is great exercise and the whole family can enjoy the fresh vegetables straight from the garden.
- Grate vegetables into pasta sauces or homemade hamburger patties.
- Add vegetables such as carrot and zucchini to muffins and cakes.
- Thread vegetable pieces onto skewers with lean meat, chicken or tofu and grill or BBQ.