What IS a serve of vegetables?
The Australian Dietary Guidelines point out that we need to eat a certain amount of vegetables each day for good health.
5-6 Serves for Adults and Teens
2.5-5 Serves for Children (depending on age)
But how much is an actual serve?
A serve of vegies = ½ a cup of cooked vegies, a medium sized potato, or one cup of salad vegies.
Easy way to remember
Most of us don’t bother with measuring cups when we’re cooking, so here’s an easy way to remember, a serve is approximately: one handful of cooked vegies or two handfuls of salad.
Another rule of thumb is to remember that at dinner half the plate should be a variety of non starchy vegetables (that’s right, ½ a plate of mashed potato doesn’t count!), ¼ should be lean meat, and ¼ should be grains.
Most people in Mildura eat only about half the recommended quantity of vegetables. Try to choose different types and colours of fresh vegetables to make sure you are getting a range of necessary nutrients.
Vegetables and legumes/beans provide vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and many hundreds of phytonutrients (nutrients naturally present in plants). Most vegetables and legumes/beans are low in energy (kilojoules) relative to many other foods, and may help ‘fill us up’ so that we are not tempted to eat unhealthy options.
Diets high in vegetables can help protect us against chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke and some types of cancers, and can also help us maintain a healthy weight.
It is also important to include different types of vegetables, for example from the leaves and roots of plants, and legumes such as dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas.
Fresh, frozen, canned or dried varieties of vegetables are all suitable foods. Check the ingredients list and choose varieties of canned vegetables without added salt.
Remember to avoid undoing all your good work by overcooking your vegetables or covering them in extra calories by adding excess gravy, cheesy sauces or frying vegetables in saturated fats.
This may sound like a lot, but don’t be put off if this sounds out of reach – just aim to ‘Go One Better’ – even if you get one more serve than you are currently eating you are on the way.