NHMRC - Public Health
Publication date
17 October 18

Are you one of the 96 per cent of Australian adults not eating enough vegetables each day?

Commencing 15 October, National Nutrition Week promotes optimal health by encouraging all Australians to enjoy healthy eating habits. This year’s theme, ‘Small Change, Big Gains’, focuses on supporting Australians to meet NHMRC’s recommended five serves of vegetables each day.

Why eat more vegetables?

Eating a diet high in vegetables reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease and cancer. Vegetables are nutrition powerhouses – filled with essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants that promote a healthy gut and keep energy levels high. Including five serves of vegetables each day also means that there is less space for discretionary foods and drinks – such as those with high saturated fats, added sugars and/or salt – all of which contribute to weight gain and increased for chronic disease.

A little note on little people:

All Australians are encouraged to enjoy their vegetables. The serving sizes for children are the same for adults but children eight years and younger should aim for 2 ½ - 4 ½ serves each day. Go to the Eat for Health website for more information on the recommended vegetable serves for children.

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Top tips to veg up

A few small changes to your eating habits will help you to reach your five serves of vegetables each day. Thinking outside the dinner plate to achieve your five serves – vegetables are the perfect accompaniment to every meal. And don’t forget to ‘eat a rainbow’ – each different colour and type of vegetable contains unique nutrients to boost your immune system and support good health.

Add vegetables to breakfast by:

  • Topping your toast with baked beans, lightly sautéed spinach or mushrooms.

Add vegetables to lunchboxes for school and work by:

  • Chopping up carrot, cucumber and capsicum into sticks. Add a mini-tub of hummus for the ‘dip factor’ and to keep it interesting;
  • Throw in mini-tins of sweet corn, four bean mix or baked beans.

Add more vegetables to dinner by:

  • Adding frozen vegetables to all soups, stews and curries. Keep a packet in the freezer and use generously. Frozen vegetables are affordable, super quick and nutritious;
  • Use tinned legumes – not only adding vegetables but also very wallet-friendly. Try brown lentils in bolognaise, red kidney beans in chilli con carne and chickpeas in soups;
  • Enjoy meat-free meals regularly to increase the focus on vegetables.

Wondering what five serves of vegetables a day looks like?

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating has taken the guesswork out of fitting five serves of vegetables in each day. Sample meal plans are available to inspire you today.