It’s national Nutrition week! Every year in October Nutrition Australia run their Try For 5 campaign to encourage and inform Australians to increase vegetable consumption to the recommended 5 serves per day. We all know vegetables are good for us; they are naturally packed full of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants to help fight off disease and fibre to help our gut stay happy. Eating more vegetables is one simple and easy thing that you can do to improve your overall health and wellbeing.
While we all may know that vegetables are good for us, surprisingly only 4% of Australian adults eat the recommended 5 servings!
So, what does a vegetable serve actually look like?
A serve of vegetable is 75g. This can look like:
- 1/2 a medium size potato or other starchy vegetables,
- 1 cup of raw leafy greens vegetables e.g. spinach, salad leaves, kale
- ½ cup cooked vegetables e.g. broccoli, carrot, pumpkin.
What are the Health Benefits of having vegetables and Try for 5?
1. Bone Health:
many vegetables contain key vitamins such as vitamin K and C which helps your body keep your bones healthy. Vitamin C is essential in formation of your cartilage and joints
2. Brain and Nervous system:
Many nutrients are important for your brain and nervous system to function well. Some of the most significant ones include B-vitamins, Vitamin C and minerals such as iron, calcium and potassium. These nutrients are important in allowing our brain to send messages to the rest of the body.
In order to keep our gut health, we need fibre. Fibre from vegetables are key to help ensure your bowel movements are regular and keep your gut healthy and happy.
The vitamin and mineral found in vegetables are essential for the body to function. And an easy way to ensure we are getting enough of each nutrient is to Eat the Rainbow. Eating a variety of colours is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and even more important if you are suffering chronic illness.
As mentioned earlier, There are many benefits of eating the rainbow, from improvements in inflammation, to fibre and gut health. And we can’t forget antioxidants…
Vegetables and antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures.
The sources of antioxidants can be artificial or natural – all fruits and vegetables have a variety of antioxidants (known as phytochemical), which give them their vibrant colours and with each carrying unique health benefits.
❤️Red – full of antioxidants (particularly lycopene) including tomatoes, red berries, apple, red capsicum …
🧡Orange – high in carotenoid which give us that bright orange colour in pumpkin, sweet potato and carrots.
💛Yellow – full of beta-carotene a great source of vitamin A. Enjoy, plenty of sweet corn, pineapple, lemon and yellow capsicum.
💚Green – the most nutrient dense food packed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals. From green leafy vegetables like spinach, silverbeet and kale to broccoli, zucchini and avocado.
💜 💙 Blue/Purple, containing powerful antioxidants. These can be found in blueberries, plum, purple carrot and eggplant
💟 White/Brown, Although low colour, they are packed full of nourishing goodness, showing benefits to every part of the body. From onions and garlic to mushrooms and potato.
So remember, to consider and enjoy the rainbow when you Try For 5!
Eating 5 serves of vegetables doesn’t have to be difficult. If you are aiming for 5 here are my top tips to help you achieve your goal.
- Eat vegetables that are seasonal. They are more affordable and also carry the essential vitamins needed to help you during that season.
- Frozen or Fresh? BOTH. Vegetable is a vegetable and if you are concerned about it not lasting long the frozen is just as good as fresh.
- Add more, and more.. if you have a dish aim to add more vegetables into it. It can be incorporated into the meal or added on the side. A fave is adding hidden vegetables to dishes such as spaghetti bolognese!
This year’s Try for 5 campaign presents an exclusive collection of vegetable-focused recipes, veg tips and information to inspire you to get more veg in your day. At this time, we need to look after our health, and the planet’s well-being too. With the Coronavirus pandemic we are making more meals at home than ever. It’s true that right now, we all want to feel connected with our family and our community.
Let’s celebrate and try for 5 serves of fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced veggies!