Why Aussies need to eat more vegetables

Eating a healthy and balanced diet can help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Yet, less than four per cent of Australians consume the recommended five serves of vegetables a day.

What can we do to change this? Inspiring and empowering healthy eating for all Australians is the mission of Nutrition Australia, Australia’s peak nutritional body. One of their annual initiatives is Tryfor5, an awareness campaign run during National Nutrition Week (13 – 19 October) encouraging Australians to increase their vegetable consumption, with this year’s theme “Embrace Your Veg Waste” which supports Australians to consume five serves of vegetables each day by learning to embrace their food waste.

According to Nutrition Australia’s CEO Lucinda Hancock the Tryfor5 campaign reinforces the healthy eating message. “Australians aren’t eating enough vegetables and are throwing away large amounts of edible food waste and so we’re calling on everyone to rise to the challenge and Embrace their veg waste”

READ MORE: Opportunity for frozen vegetables in health-focussed diets

More than one third of rubbish bins in Australian kitchens contain leftovers and wasted food, which equates to nearly $4000 worth of groceries per household per year that can end up in landfill, where food breaks down and can emit harmful greenhouse gases.

Nutrition Australia senior dietitian, Amber Kelaart says there are a few ways we can try for 5 serves of vegetables a day, while helping to save money and the environment, by embracing vegetable ‘waste’:

  • Eat more parts of vegetables such as skins, stalks and leaves.
  • Use up ageing vegetables that would otherwise go in the bin
  • Choose ‘ugly’ and ‘imperfect’ vegetables to prevent them going to landfill. They’re just as nutritious, and often cheaper.

“Eating your ageing vegetables and eating the parts you usually throw out (like skins, stalks and leaves), makes every dollar stretch further, and reduces your household’s impact on climate change. It’s win-win.”

Kelaart says to start by using more parts of the vegetables you already have on hand. “Vegetable skins contain fibre, vitamins and minerals. Rinsing vegetables like carrots, potatoes and mushrooms, instead of peeling them, means you keep more of those important nutrients in your body and out of the bin.”

“And don’t throw out things like broccoli stems or the leaves of leeks. You can chop the broccoli stems and use it in a stir-fry or soup. And chips, tart and stock made from the leaves of leek will add a unique new ingredient to your repertoire.”

If your vegetables are getting a little wrinkly, having some go to recipes up your sleeve will help you use up your ageing vegetables.

“Give your ageing vegetables a second life by adding them to vegetable soups, egg frittatas or savoury muffins. Just add a few handfuls of chopped left-over vegetables to create delicious and colourful new meals or snacks. Plus they freeze well and can be added to the kids’ lunchbox or taken to work.”

Nutrition Australia also recommends learning how to store different types of vegetables, so they stay fresh for as long as possible.

“If you have bought a lot of something but only need a little, think about preparing the extra vegetables in a way that you can use in future. For example, chop up extra celery and carrots for snacks. And freeze herbs while they’re fresh so you can trim some off each time you need more,” Amber suggests.

Bayer is the founding sponsor of the Tryfor5 Program and is committed to actively supporting the health and wellbeing of all Australians through programs that improve health literacy.

“Working in partnership with Nutrition Australia we are dedicated to improving health outcomes through increased awareness of nutritional and everyday health needs.  The Tryfor5 campaign provides practical information and tips on nutritional requirements to support positive self-care practices.” Jeorg Ellmanns, CEO Bayer Australia and New Zealand.