Diet News

Do you eat enough fruit and vegetables?

Friday, 11 February 2011

To maintain good health, you should be aiming to eat at least 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables every day. But most Australians eat only half the recommended amount, and research suggests most people would benefit from increasing their daily intake.

Why eat more fruit and vegetables?

Fruits and vegetables are the best things you can put in your diet plan. Packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, they are great for your health, helping to protect your body from a wide range of conditions. Because of their high water content, they also have a very low caloric density, which means they have a small amount of calories in relation to their physical size, so you can fill up on plenty while still staying within your calorie limit. Plus, they are low-GI, so they keep you feeling full for longer. Perfect for losing weight!

What exactly is a serve?

One of the confusing things is knowing how much equals one serve. Luckily, it’s more straightforward than you think. Just try to remember the following:

One serve of vegetables is about 75 grams. That means:

  • ½ cup cooked vegetables,
  • 1 cup salad vegetables,
  • 1 medium potato, or
  • 1/2 cup cooked legumes.

One serve of fruit is 150 grams, which means:

  • 1 medium-sized piece fresh fruit (apple, banana etc),
  • 2 smaller pieces fresh fruit (apricots, kiwifruit),
  • 1 cup canned or chopped fruit,
  • ½ cup (125mL) 100% fruit juice, or
  • 1½ tablespoon dried fruit.

If you can get in a variety of different fruits and vegetables you’ll get a good mix of nutrients, helping to ensure great overall health.

How to get in enough serves…

It can seem hard to get in enough serves of fruits and vegetables each day. But if you’re creative about it and make a few small changes to your diet, you’ll fit them in no problem.

Here are some ideas…

  • Chop up some carrots, celery, capsicum, broccoli and cauliflower and serve with a yummy low-fat dip as a snack
  • Grate or dice some onion, zucchini, carrot and corn and add to a savoury muffin mixture
  • Grill vegetables and eat as a topping on toast
  • Add extra vegetables and reduce the amount of meat in a casserole or stir-fry
  • Eat diced fruit on top of your breakfast cereal or yogurt
  • Add grated or diced fruit into a low-fat pancake mix
  • Put fruit in your salad for a juicy twist
  • Eat sliced banana on toast
  • Add vegetable skewers to your barbecue repertoire.
  • Freeze fruit like bananas, strawberries, grapes and oranges for an icy snack
  • Get in the habit of always serving main meals with a side of cooked veggies or salad
  • Blend fruit into a sweet and filling smoothie
  • Make fruit skewers for dessert
  • Chop fresh vegetables and add to salsa or your favourite low-fat dip
  • Add extra mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes and spring onion to your omelette
  • Make up the bulk of your pasta sauce with chopped or grated vegetables

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