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Health and Wellbeing - July 2017

29 Jun 2017

Vegetables - five a day, everyday

By Erin Burns, Nutritionist at Push! Fitness

Vegetables contain various vitamins and minerals that are required for good health. They also contain dietary fibre, which is essential for good health – especially gut health.

Fibre is good for gut health as it aids in the digestive process of food and adds bulk to the faeces allowing it to pass more easily.

There are two types of dietary fibre, soluble and non-soluble. Both are important in conjunction with the consumption of water to aid in relieving the following disorders that can arise from low-fibre diets:

  • Constipation;
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS);
  • Diverticulitis;
  • Heart disease; and
  • Some cancers.

It is recommended Australians should consume five or more serves of vegetables a day. Unfortunately, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics national health survey 2014-15, only 7 per cent of men and woman over the age of 18 met these guidelines.

A serving of vegetables is equal to one cup of raw/uncooked vegetables or salad or half a cup of cooked vegetables.

Vegetables protect against diseases such as type two diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and hypertension. Because they contain phytochemicals, which are various plant chemicals with different actions such as antioxidant, hormonal, and anti-bacterial.

By eating a wide variety of vegetables, you ensure you obtain maximum amounts of different vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Look at the different coloured vegetables and add a rainbow of colours to your meals to reach this health target.

Maximise the nutrient content of your vegetables and buy them in season. You might be lucky enough to have a farmers’ market close to your home. If this is the case make a conscious effort to go and get the bulk of your fruit and vegetables from there.

Going to a local farmers’ market has many other health benefits such as fresh air, supporting local farmers, sustainability and making community connections. Alternatively, you can grow your own vegetables, which is very rewarding as well as it instils an appreciation for where your food comes from and how it grows. If you don’t have the space for this, join the Docklands community garden.

There is the debate of organic versus non-organic. I would suggest, eat organic where you can, especially for vegetables’ edible skin. Otherwise, non-organic foods should not be a reason not to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption as they and are still a healthy choice. Just ensure to wash the vegetables before you eat them, for both organic and non-organic.

Options for washing your vegetables:

  • Under running water use a veggie brush to wash the outer skin;
  • Peel vegetable skins such as carrot and potatoes; and
  • In a bowl of water add a few drops of white vinegar and wash your veggies. The vinegar will remove pesticides, which are fat soluble.

During the cooler months make a big batch of vegetable soup for the week ahead.

Ensure half your lunch and dinner plate contains your vegetable component. If eating a hot breakfast, add sides such as spinach, grilled tomato and mushroom. Count your serves as you go along each day, or pre-prepare your meals to ensure you get your five-a-day!

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