In 2007–08, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found that more than 90% of adults did not eat enough vegetables each day, while a further 50% did not eat enough fruit. This is extremely concerning as fruit and vegetables are a vital part of a healthy diet.
Why are fruit and vegetables an important part of your diet?
Fruit and vegetables provide you with an excellent source of fibre as well as essential vitamins and minerals. Fibre is imperative to your diet, as it helps provide satiety and aids healthy bowel movements. Vitamins and minerals are essential, as they enable the body to function normally and promote metabolism, health and well-being. Consuming inadequate quantities of fibre, vitamins and minerals can lead to constipation and nutrient deficiencies (e.g.: night blindness, scurvy, rickets).
In addition, fruit and vegetables are naturally low in calories, meaning that you can bulk up many of your means with increased servings of fruit or vegetables. Various fruits and vegetables are often referred to as superfoods and are believed to improve your health and wellbeing. The rationale for this is that many fruit and vegetables contain antioxidant properties that help protect you against cancer, diabetes and heart disease. They do so by scavenging free radicals and reducing the damage caused by oxidation in the body.
How many serves of fruit and vegetables do we need to eat per day?
In order to consume adequate quantities of fibre, vitamins and minerals you need to consume at least 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables each day. What constitutes one serve does however differ depending on the type of fruit or vegetable you are eating. Below is a list of different fruit and vegetables with an indication of how much of that food is considered one serve. It is important to remember that different coloured fruits and vegetables contain different types of vitamins and minerals and therefore for optimal health you should aim to have a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables in your diet.