The Dietary Guidelines for Australians advises the key to eating well is to enjoy a variety of nutritious foods from each of the five food groups. Most Australians eat only about half the recommended quantity of fruit and vegetables.
Vegetables, legumes/beans and fruit provide vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and many hundreds of phytonutrients (nutrients naturally present in plants). Most vegetables, legumes/beans and fruit are low in energy (kilojoules) relative to many other foods, and may help ‘fill us up’ to avoid excessive weight gain too.
Dietary patterns high in vegetables, legumes/beans and fruit can help protect us against chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke and some types of cancers. They may also prevent excessive weight gain.
The scientific evidence of the health benefits of eating vegetables and fruit has been reported for decades and continues to strengthen. Different vegetables can help protect the body in different ways, so it’s important to choose a variety of colours, particularly:
- green (such as broccoli, spinach)
- orange (such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes)
- yellow and red (such as capsicum, tomatoes).
It is also important to include different types of vegetables, for example from the leaves and roots of plants, and legumes such as dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. Fresh, frozen, canned or dried varieties of vegetables and fruit are all suitable foods. Check the ingredients list and choose varieties of canned vegetables without added salt and canned fruit in natural juice, not syrup.
For more information about the importance of fruit and vegetables in your diet visit the Eat for Health website.
Information from Eat for Health - Australian Dietary Guidelines © Commonwealth of Australia, 2013.