Struggling to hit your 5 serves?
Statistically speaking, the answer is likely to be yes. Only about half of all Aussies are hitting the recommended number of serves of vegetables each day.
Veggies contain many nutrients that are vital for our health, which means if you eat too few you may be at risk of a nutrient deficiency.
Firstly, why are veggies so important?
“Eat your veggies!” is a phrase most of us have probably heard numerous times but as dietitians, if there’s one food we encourage our clients to eat more of its vegetables.
There are so many benefits of eating vegetables but here are some of the main benefits:
- Rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, which is important for a strong immune system, healthy eyes and skin and potassium which helps maintain a healthy blood pressure.
- Rich in antioxidants that help to protect your body’s cells from damage (this happens naturally as we age). Different coloured vegetables provide different antioxidants for example red vegetables contain the antioxidant lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant known to help reduce the risk of cancer and keep our heart healthy.
- Vegetables are a great source of fibre, which you might know is important in keeping your poops regular. Fibre is also crucial for feeding our healthy gut bugs. The recommended daily intake of fibre is 25-30g and eating your 5 serves of vegetables combined with wholegrains, nuts and seeds is the best way to hit this target!
- Helps with weight loss. Vegetables are low in kilojoules and because they’re so fibre rich, they will help to keep you feeling satisfied at meal times. So if you’re looking to lose weight – try bumping up your veggie intake!
So, how many vegetables should we be eating every day?
The current recommendations suggest most adults should eat at least 5 serves of vegetables every day.
A standard serve of vegetables is ~75g, however this can look different depending on whether you’re eating raw, cooked or canned vegetables
8 ways to up your daily vegetable count
- Bulk up your breakfast: vegetables make a great pairing with savoury breakfasts. Add some rocket and sliced avocado to your eggs on toast, or perhaps grating some zucchini and carrot into your scrambled eggs. You could also make a veggie omelette packed with spinach, diced tomato and mushrooms.
- Add some vegetables to your morning smoothie: Smoothies can be a great way to sneak in an extra serve of vegetables. Try adding some spinach to your banana smoothie, or even create your own vegetable-fruit smoothie with cucumber, spinach, or celery sweetened with fruit. Here’s one of our favourite Green smoothie recipes.
- Hero the veggies! Building a meal around the vegetables (rather than as a side to a meal) can be a great way to increase your intake. Try a vegetable soup, a tasty salad or some vegetable fritters, patties or even a vegetable lasagne.
- Find ways to sneak in extra vegetables: there are loads of meals which can easily be bulked up by some grated or diced vegetables. Try chopping or grating zucchini, carrot, onion and capsicum into a Bolognese, lasagne, frittata or casserole.
- Meal prep for easy veggie additions: preparing ingredients to use meals throughout the week is a great way to speed up the cooking process. Try roasting a mix of vegetables to quickly add as a side to your dinners or grating fresh vegetables (e.g. carrot and zucchini), which can easily be mixed in with fresh salads for your lunch.
- Veggie snacks: veggies make a fantastic snack option, providing a burst of fibre to keep you full between meals. Delicious options include carrot and celery sticks with hummus, roasted chickpeas, three-bean mix or even a green smoothie.
- Expand your veggie vocabulary: eating the same vegetables every day will make your daily 5 serves seem fairly unappetising. A great way to increase variation is by trying out at least one new vegetable every week. Exploring different produce stores can also help in discovering new options and possibly vegetables you’ve never heard of!
- Meat Free Meals: embracing meat-free meals can be a great way to create vegetable-rich options. By planning a few meat-free meals throughout the week, you’ll need different ingredients to build the bulk of your meal, which can be a great opportunity to hero larger portions of (or even new) vegetables. Some of our favourite meat-free, veggie-packed meals include our chickpea and sweet potato salad, pesto zucchini noodle and edamame salad or our healthy grain bowl.