Fruit & Veggies – Are you getting enough?
Most people know that fruit and vegetables are good for you, but the fact is, eating enough of these foods may be the single most important dietary change needed to improve health and reduce the risk of disease.
Why Eat Fruit & Vegetables?
A lifetime habit of eating adequate fruit and vegetables every day can help protect against:
- Coronary heart disease
- Some forms of cancer
- Overweight and obesity
It can also help to:
- Reduce blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels
- Improve control of diabetes
The Australian Government recommends that adults eat at least 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables each day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should aim to eat 4 to 5 serves of fruit and 6 to 7 serves of vegetables to meet the extra demands of the body.
Fruit and vegetables are good sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, folate and fibre
- Vitamin A: is found in large amounts in dark green, yellow and orange fruit and vegetables, eg carrots, pumpkin, spinach and rockmelon. Beta-carotene is the main form of vitamin A in fruit and vegetables. Vitamin A keeps skin and eyes healthy and also defends the body against infection.
- Vitamin C: is found mainly in fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, capsicum, broccoli, cabbage, citrus fruit (eg oranges), rockmelon and kiwi fruit. Vitamin C helps your body to absorb iron from food – another good reason to include fruits and vegetables at every meal!
- Antioxidants: These include vitamins A, C, E and carotenoids such as beta-carotene. Antioxidants protect the body from the damaging effects of oxidation, supporting the immune system and protecting against disease
- Folate: is found in green vegetables, dried peas, beans and lentils. Folate has been found to prevent the birth defect spina bifida
- Dietary Fibre: high fibre foods are filling, so they help to satisfy your appetite for longer. There are two main types of dietary fibre – soluble and insoluble.
- Soluble fibre, found in fruit, oats, barley, dried or canned beans and some vegetables, may help lower blood cholesterol levels.
- Insoluble fibre, found in wholegrain breads, cereals and vegetables, can help to prevent constipation.
Tips with Fruit
- Fruit comes in its own convenient ‘wrapper’. It makes the ideal snack to eat on the road
- Keep in mind that fruit contains ‘natural sugars’, so no more than the 2 recommended serves should be consumed each day.
- Choose fresh fruit instead of fruit juice or dried fruit:
- Juices have lower fibre content than fresh fruit.
- Dried fruit, if eaten in large quantities, can contribute to tooth decay because it contains a concentrated form of sugar that sticks to your teeth
Tips with Vegetables
• Top toast with cooked mushrooms, tomatoes, capsicum or sweet corn
• Chop and add to an omelette or savoury pancake
• Heat chopped leftover vegetables and serve as a topping for toast; add an egg or reduced-fat cheese for a more substantial meal
• Top English muffins or crumpets with diced vegetables and sprinkle with reduced-fat cheese for a quick mini pizza
• Serve carrot and celery sticks, florets of broccoli and cauliflower, and strips of capsicum with a low fat dip
• Grate or dice onion, carrot, zucchini, potato and corn into a savoury muffin or pikelet mixture
• Grate beetroot and butternut pumpkin to add colour to your salad or sandwich
• Make meat go further by adding extra vegetables in a stir-fry or casserole
• Add legumes (eg dried beans, peas or lentils) to soups for added flavour and taste
• Always serve main meals with cooked vegetables or a salad
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