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Smart Eating Week—make friends with fruit and veg

Monday, 12 February 2018

Smart Eating Week—make friends with fruit and veg
An estimated 5.2 million deaths worldwide each year are attributable to inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption. In Australia, chronic diseases are the leading cause of morbidity. It has been estimated that we could save upwards of $269 million annually if all Australians met the recommended daily serves for fruit and vegetables (1).
 
One of the most beneficial dietary changes you can make to improve your health is to ‘Go for 2&5’, enjoying two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day. However, Australians are world-class salad dodgers, with recent statistics indicating that only seven per cent of us eat the recommended five serves of vegetables per day and less than half of us meet the recommended two serves of fruit daily (2).
 
Smart Eating Week (12 to 18 February) is an opportune time to look at why fruits and vegetables are so important and how you can achieve the recommended serves. 
 
The benefits of meeting the recommended dietary intake of fruits and vegetables are well documented:
  • weight control—Fruits and vegetables are typically high in fibre and low in overall calories, making them a great at helping to keep you fuller for longer without the extra weight gain that can come from other filling foods.
  • reduction in long-term health problems—Fruit and vegetable consumption has been linked with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancers (3). Every additional serve of fruit and vegetable consumed further reduces the risk of disease.
  • reduction in mortality rate—Research indicates that each additional daily serve of fruits or vegetables may reduce the risk of mortality by five per cent (4). Someone who eats five serves of vegetables a day can have a 20 per cent lower risk of death compared to someone who only manages a token small side salad with dinner.
  • enhanced mental health and wellbeing—Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption has been found to be predictive of enhanced feelings of happiness, life satisfaction, and wellbeing (5), even after accounting for financial status, family upbringing, and personality type. And the more vegetables eaten, the happier the people!
 
You probably already know that eating more fruit and vegetables is important for your health, but in practice it can sometimes seem hard to achieve.   
 
Try these top 10 tips to increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables:
  • shop seasonally to get the best tasting and quality fruit and vegetables at affordable prices. Remember to select a range of different-coloured fruit and vegetables.
  • keep frozen fruit and vegetables handy in the freezer as a ready-to-go addition to main meals.
  • upsize savoury breakfasts by adding mushrooms, spinach and tomato. 
  • aim to fill half of your plate with vegetables or salad at lunch and dinner.
  • grabbing a frozen dinner? Mix in an extra cup of frozen vegetables.
  • add tinned legumes and grated vegetables to meat-based dishes to boost your meals for a cheaper, healthier alternative.
  • snack smart with vegetable sticks and hummus, crackers with cheese and tomato, fruit with yoghurt or oven-roasted chickpeas and fava beans.
  • top your morning cereal with sliced fresh fruit or a handful of berries.
  • base desserts around fresh or frozen fruit for a sweet treat without the guilt. 
  • keep snack sized portions of fruit or vegie sticks in handy places such as a bowl on the kitchen bench or on your desk at work.
 
So, during Smart Eating Week—and every week—aim to improve your health and wellbeing by making friends with fruit and vegetables. Every serve will do you good.
 
The Accredited Practising Dietitians at Mater Health and Wellness are available to help you achieve your goals through individualised evidence-based consultations.  
 
Sally McCray, Director of Nutrition and Dietetics 
 
 
  1. Cadilhac, D., et al., The societal benefits of reducing six behavioural risk factors: an economic modelling study from Australia. BMC Public Health, 2011. 11 (483).
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Daily Intake of Fruit and Vegetables. 2015  [cited October 1st 2016]; Available from: www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2014-15~Daily%20intake%20of%20fruit%20and%20vegetables~28.
  3. National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Dietary Guidelines - Providing the scientific evidence for healthier Australian Diets, 2013, National Health and Medical Research Council.
  4. Wang, X., et al., Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. British Medical Journal, 2014. 349 (g4490).
  5. Mujcic, R. and A. Oswald, Evolution of Well-Being and Happiness After Increases in Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables. American Journal of Public Health, 2016. 106 (8): p. 1504-1510.
Posted: 12/02/2018 10:33:58 AM by News @ Mater | with 0 comments

Tags: dietitian, nutrition, Nutrition and Dietetics, Sally McCray