What is the best way to get all the fruit and veg we need? Read on…
Do we need more veg than this?
Eating a variety of fruit and veg is one of the surest ways to get all the vitamins, minerals, fibre and plant chemicals that help to lower our risk of disease. Yet less than 7 per cent of Australians eat the recommended five serves of vegetables and only one in two of us eat the recommended two serves of fruit a day; and many are confused about what ‘counts’. If you feel the same, our chart opposite will help.
Is seven serves enough?
In Australia, we’ve long been advised to eat at least five serves of veg and two serves of fruit daily, but some experts argue that’s simply not enough. In reality, this represents the minimum required for good health, and it’s best to aim for 7-10 serves a day. (A serve for adults is approximately 75g of veg, 150g of fresh fruit and, occasionally, 30g of dried fruit.)
Another consideration is that the fruit and veg on offer may be less nutritious than it once was. This is due to intensive farming methods, changes in soil conditions, new crop varieties (which yield larger produce that needs less time to ripen on the plant), increased transport distances, storage times and our tendency to eat out of season.
What are the benefits?
• Boost your bone health with sources of calcium – broccoli and dark-green leafy veg such as kale.
• Beat high blood pressure with celery, tomatoes and spinach – all potassium rich.
• Promote heart health by eating avocado, a source of healthy monounsaturated fats and soluble fibre.
• Cut colds with vitamin C: top sources are kiwi, strawberries, citrus fruit and capsicums.
• Fight hunger with lowenergy, high-fibre fruit and veg; they keep you fuller for longer.
Variety is key
Australia’s favourite fruit is now the banana, closely followed by apples and citrus fruit; while potatoes and carrots are high on our list of favourite vegetables. Good news, as these are valuable sources of nutrients and fibre. But it is important to eat all the colours of the rainbow to ensure we get a good mix of vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals.
Best eaten together
• Avocado & tomatoes
Heart-healthy fats in avocado help you absorb protective plant nutrients, such as lycopene in tomatoes.
• Spinach & citrus You’ll absorb the iron in spinach more easily if you combine it with vitamin-C-rich fruit or veg, such as orange, lemon or capsicums.
• Green leafy veg &
chickpeas Leafy greens are rich in magnesium, needed for energy and heart health. Combine with beans or pulses – they supply vitamin B6, which helps up magnesium intake.
• Broad beans & parsley
Beans are a good source of catechins, plant compounds thought to protect against heart disease and cancer.
The vitamin C in parsley helps our bodies to absorb catechins more easily.