National Nutrition Week – fruit and veg anyone?

26 October 2011

It’s National Nutrition Week and a great time to increase awareness regarding our nutritional requirements. Are you getting enough fruit and vegetables into your diet every day?

The National Health and Research Council (NHMRC) which is the government body who formulates the Recommended Daily Intakes (RDI’s) of all nutrients for Australia, recommends a minimum of 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit daily. If your answer is “No”, then you are part of almost half the Australian population whom aren’t getting adequate vegetables, fruit and essential nutrients daily. Almost 25% of males and 50% of females don’t meet their minimum requirement of calcium daily, according to Australia’s largest nutrition survey of over 13,000 Australians. Daily recommended intakes of nutrients such as zinc, magnesium and iron are also not being met. Highly processed pre-packaged foods are primarily to blame, as the convenience and sugar, salt, flavoring and preservative laden foods are often nutrient poor, contributing to the prevalence of nutritional deficiencies in Australia. Low intakes of fresh vegetables and fruit in combination with modern growing and processing methods often means that essential nutrients are low. The soil within which our fruits and vegetables are grown are often depleted of minerals, and processing and cooking techniques further reduce the available nutrients.

So what can be done about it?

There are so many easy ways to include more vegetables and fruit into your diet. Organic vegetables and fruit generally have higher levels of nutrients and eating raw veggies will also help to reduce the amount of nutrients lost in cooking. Try some of these easy tips: Cook stuffed veggies like zucchini, capsicum and mushrooms Have back up frozen veggies in the freezer for a quick and easy stir fry Spread avocado on wholegrain bread or crackers rather than butter or margarine Give breaki a veggie boost with spinach, mushrooms, tomato or avocado Cut up carrot and/or celery sticks with hummus dip as a yummy, healthy snack Grate carrots, celery or beetroot into pasta sauces, fritatas or salads Have an apple, orange, banana or kiwi as a snack instead of chips or biscuits Alternatively, nutritional supplements may bridge the gap between the current intakes of vitamins and minerals and the optimal levels required daily. For more information regarding additional food ideas, clarification of nutrient deficiencies or finding out if you require a multi vitamin and mineral supplement, see a qualified nutritionist.