Life’s complicated enough – so let’s ‘Try for 5’ and make eating vegetables easy

Vegetables are a key part of our diet for good health and wellbeing. Despite this, only 9% of Australian adults and children are eating the recommended daily 5 serves of vegetables(1).

Every year, Nutrition Australia runs their ‘Try for 5’ campaign during National Nutrition Week (15-21 October 2023) to encourage Australians to eat more vegetables.

This year, ORS will be joining in celebrating the humble vegetable and the important role they play in our lives as well as giving out some tips and tricks to help us reach our recommended daily 5 serves of vegetables.

By trying for 5 serves of vegetables each day, you will not only see health benefits but save money and help the environment too – so what are you waiting for?

The health benefits of vegetables

Vegetables are amazing as they contain a range of nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein and fibre. Including them as part of a balanced meal will help us feel energised, satisfied and fuller for longer.

Vegetables are also full of nutrients that have protective health benefits including vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (2).

  • >> Maintain a healthy weight and lower our
    obesity risk
  • >> Lower our cholesterol and blood pressure
  • >> Improve our blood sugar levels
  • >> Improve our digestive health
  • >> Improve our mental health and mood

Scientific research shows that if you eat the recommended number of vegetables each day, you can lower your risk of chronic diseases, such as:

  • >> Type 2 diabetes
  • >> High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • >> Stroke
  • >> Cardiovascular disease (heart disease)
  • >> Some types of cancer – bowel, throat and stomach

What is a serve of vegetables?

A serve of vegetables is ~75g (3), which can look like:

  • 1 cup of raw, leafy salads or baby spinach
  • ½ cup of cooked vegetables like broccoli, spinach, carrots or pumpkin
  • ½ cup of cooked beans, peas or lentils
  • ½ medium potato or sweet potato
  • 1 medium tomato

To ensure we are getting 5 serves a day try and eat two handfuls of salad or vegetables at lunch and dinner.

It is important to try and include different vegetables in our meals each week, as the different colours have different health benefits.

Five ways to increase the number of vegetables you eat

 1. Add extra to your sandwiches

Adding extra salad to your sandwich can help you stay fuller throughout the day. You can mix and match and try different combinations, depending on what you like. Start slow and add one new vegetable to your sandwich today! Try:

  • >> Lettuce
  • >> Tomato
  • >> Cucumber
  • >> Capsicum
  • >> Beetroot
  • >> Red onion

Add a little bit of your favourite sauce to make it even more yummy!

 2. Order a side salad or side of vegetables when you eat out

To make sure you are eating 5 different vegetables every day, try ordering a side of vegetables when you go out for lunch or dinner.

You could try:

  • >> A side of Asian greens when out enjoying your favourite Asian cuisine
  • >> Ordering vegetables and mash potato instead of hot chips
  • >> Order a salad with your pizza and take ½ the pizza home for lunch the next day

 3. Add vegetables to your favourite smoothie

Adding some vegetables to a smoothie is an easy way to get some more vegetables mixed in with something sweet.

Click here for some yummy smoothie recipes

 4. Choose to snack on vegetables

There are many ready to eat vegetables you can snack on. Some quick options include:

 5. Add frozen vegetables to your dinner

Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh ones. At dinner try adding a cup of mixed frozen vegetables to your favourite meal.

Meals that go great with frozen vegetables are:

  • >> Spaghetti bolognaise
  • >> Stir-fries or curries
  • >> Soups or stews
  • >>  Frittatas

Tips and Tricks

Remember to always store your vegetables correctly, as this helps them last longer in your fridge and saves you money.

To store them correctly:

  • >> Make sure your fridge is set to 4°C
  • >> Wash and store your vegetables in a container with paper towel
  • >> Store your herbs and vegetables with roots in water

Planning your meals ahead of time is important to successfully increase your vegetable intake. Try this printable shopping list and meal planner.

For more information see the Try for 5 website – https://www.tryfor5.org.au/

Reference
  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Dietary behaviour [Internet]. Canberra: ABS; 2020-21 [cited 2023 October 9]. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/dietary-behaviour/latest-release.
  2. Liu RH. Health-promoting components of fruits and vegetables in the diet. Advances in nutrition. 2013 May;4(3):384S-92S.
  3. National Health and Medical Research Council. Serve sizes – What is a serve of vegetables? [Internet]. National Health and Medical Research Council: Canberra, Australia 2015 [updated 2015 Jul 27; cited 2023 Oct 10]; Available from: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/how-much-do-we-need-each-day/serve-sizes

Erene Thong

National Manager – Dietetics

BSc, MNutr&Diet

 Megan Faulks and Michelle Zeng

Dietetics Student Placements

University of Sydney 

 

To learn more about our amazing staff visit Our Expertise.