Are you getting your 5 serves of a day?
Did you know, only 7% Australians meet the guidelines for daily vegetable intake?
This week we’ll be focusing on vegetables. If you are finding it difficult to meet the 5 serves, please continue reading to find out why eating vegetables is beneficial to our health, what low FODMAP vegetables are in season are and how you could squeeze more veggies into your diet!
If you haven’t already, also check out our blog about low FODMAP fruit and how to get your 2 serves a day here.
How many vegetables do we need every day?
In general, adults are recommended to consume 5 serves of vegetables a day. The recommendations of vegetable consumption by the Australian Dietary Guidelines are as follows:
|Recommended average daily number of serves of vegetables|
|51-70||5 ½||Boys||4-8||4 ½|
What is a serve of vegetables?
A standard serve is about 75g (100–350kJ) or:
Why 5 serves a day?
As many people know, vegetables are high in dietary fibre but there is actually so much more! Vegetables, including legumes/beans, are nutrient dense and are good source of minerals and vitamins (such as vitamin C, folate and potassium) and a range of phytochemicals such as carotenoids. All of these together keep our body functioning properly and help prevent diseases.
There is strong evidence that, eating vegetables, preferably a variety of vegetables, can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, weight gain and some cancers.
Importance of dietary fibre
Australians are recommended to consume 25-30g dietary fibre a day to keep the digestive system healthy and reduce the risk of constipation, diverticular disease, haemorrhoids and bowel cancer.
There are two types of fibre – insoluble fibre and soluble fibre. It is important to consume a mixture of both as they have different functions in the gut. Insoluble fibre helps to keep our bowels regular by acting as a ‘bulking agent’. Soluble fibre dissolves in water to form a thick gel in the bowel, making bowel movements softer and easier to move.
Whilst fibre is essential to good health and promoting good bowel function, the bulking effect of consuming too much insoluble fibre can trigger symptoms such as diarrhoea. On the other hand, some soluble fibres are fermentable by the gut bacteria (FODMAPs). During fermentation, gas is produced which can cause or trigger IBS symptoms.
Tolerance of dietary fibre varies from person to person. Seeing a specialised IBS dietitian will be very helpful to determine your tolerances of dietary fibre and FODMAPs.
Low FODMAP vegetables
While some vegetables naturally contain high levels of one or more FODMAPs, there is still a long list of low FODMAP vegetables you can eat to achieve your 5 serves a day!
Here are some examples of low FODMAP vegetables:
Bok choy, broccoli, canned beetroot, capsicum (green and red), carrot, Chinese cabbage, choko, choy sum, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, kale, lettuce (all types), okra, potato, pumpkin (Kent), radish, spinach, swede, sweet potato, taro, tomato (all types), turnip, watercress, witlof, zucchini.
Don’t forget to check your Smartphone Apps i.e FODMAP Friendly or Monash University for low FODMAP serving sizes.
Which Low FODMAP vegetables are in season in Spring?
Bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, choko, choy sum, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, lettuce, okra, potato, pumpkin (kent), radish, spinach, swede, sweet potato, tomato, turnip, watercress, witlof and zucchini are all in season as well as low FODMAP!
Ideas to help increase vegetable consumption
1: Start eating your veggies from breakfast. What about having some tomato and capsicum egg muffins to start your day?
2: Pair up your favourite fruit and veggies (such as a firm banana and 2 cups of spinach) to create a refreshing smoothie. Remember to use lactose-free or nut milk for the smoothie base.
3: Building a sandwich for lunch? Always include veggies like lettuce, canned beetroots, tomato or cucumber to give extra texture.
4: Try eating veggies in different ways – raw, grated, sliced, stir-fried, steamed or roasted. Have you got a spiralizer? Use it to experiment different veggie noodles! Try carrot, sweet potato and zucchini.
5: A Stir-fry is one of the easiest ways to cook a mixture of vegetables in one meal. How does a stir fry of chicken, carrot and green beans with ginger and sesame sound?
6: Stuff your veggies – stuff your fried rice in a capsicum or wrap your ordinary tuna salad with lettuce.
7: Blend veggies with meatloaf or meatballs!
8: If you are planning for a barbeque, try veggie kebabs! Simply place chopped vegetables of your choice on a skewer and cook on a grill.
There are many different ways you can include more vegetables in your diet. Start experimenting and make veggies an important part of your eating habits!
Until Next Time,
Written by: Flora Cheung (AN, APD)
Edited by: Atlanta Miall-Shorten (AN, APD, AccSD)