What’s in a serve of veggies?

Well, it depends . . .

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(Photo: iStock)

With Instagram feeds full of green smoothies and nourish bowls bursting with veggie goodness, you may think that we’re all doing better when it comes to eating our vegetables.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case, with many of us not getting enough vegetables in our diets. A recent study found men, twenty-somethings, people who were unemployed and people who were overweight were most in need of increasing their vegetable intake. Young men in particular could do with doubling the amount of veggies they eat.

Vegetables provide a range of health benefits, with most being low in kilojoules and rich in fibre and nutrients. As part of an overall healthy diet, veggies may also lower the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases.

So how can you reach your daily veg goals? And just what does a serve of veggies really look like?

A serve of veggies is 75 grams—what that will look like on your plate will depend on the type of veggies and whether they are raw or cooked.

  • For raw, leafy vegetables, 75 grams is 1 cup. So loading your dinner plate with 2 cups of salad will tick the box for 2 serves of veggies.
  • For cooked green or orange/yellow veggies, like broccoli and carrot, it only takes half a cup to make up a 75g serve. It’s also half a cup for sweet corn.
  • For potatoes, half a medium-sized spud is a serve. The same applies for other starchy veggies like sweet potato.
  • For tomatoes it’s a medium-sized tomato and for avocadoes it’s a quarter of the fruit (yes avocadoes are technically a fruit but they can also count as a serve of veggies).

When it comes to cooked beans, peas and lentils, half a cup makes a serve. That’s the case whether they start off fresh, dried or canned.

Why not try some of our favourite tips to help you reach your five serves a day?

Tips to reach your daily serves

Healthy swaps. Switch an afternoon muesli bar or muffin for some vegetable sticks (eg carrot, capsicum, cucumber) with a homemade dip. Prepare on a weekend so you have healthy, veggie-packed snacks ready for the week.

Secret serving. Veggies are actually really easy to sneak into any meal. It’s great for the kids, especially picky eaters, and you’ll enjoy the benefit too. Pack your bolognese with grated carrots, onions, mushrooms and legumes, or try pumpkin, spinach and capsicum in a breakfast frittata—helping you start the day with an extra serving.

Eat the rainbow. Make your lunches more colourful by stuffing your sandwiches with veggies or bulking out pasta with all the colours. Think eggplant, asparagus and cherry tomatoes.