How to Increase Your Daily Intake of Fruit and Veggies

One of the most common things that I find myself doing in clinic is increasing the amounts of fruit and vegetables everyone is eating. Less than 10% of the Australian population is eating 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit! And current research by the WHO suggests that this is also not enough to help prevent many of the chronic diseases that are increasing in our society. This research indicates that we need to eat 10 serves of fruit and vegetables to help prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Increasing fruit and vegetable intake also helps improve digestive function, improve skin health, slow the ageing process, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, reduce inflammation and improve hormonal health. They also help to provide many essential vitamins and minerals that we tend to churn through when we are busy and stressed.

A serve of vegetables is:

  • ½ cup cooked green or orange vegetables (for example, broccoli, spinach, carrots or pumpkin)
  • ½ cup cooked dried or canned beans, peas or lentils
  • 1 cup leafy or raw salad vegetables
  • ½ cup corn
  • ½ medium potato or other starchy vegetables (sweet potato, taro or cassava)
  • 1 medium tomato

A standard serve of fruit is:

  • 1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear
  • 2 small apricots, kiwi fruits or plums
  • ½ cup berries

Food tips:

Make veggies the base of each meal and add protein and grains around them: using a vegetarian cookbook can be useful and you can just add your meat to it

Breakfast:

Add berries, banana, pear, pineapple, mango, grated apple etc to oats and muesli or on top of pancakes

Have a large fruit salad with Greek yoghurt and nuts and seeds or oats on top – mint and basil work well in this too

Have smoothies and add cucumber, baby spinach and celery or other mild vegetables and fruit to sweeten

Include veggies at breakfast: eggs with avo and baby spinach on toast, omelettes with tomato, onion, rocket and mushrooms, baked beans on toast with parsley and other herbs

Mains:

Salads that have 4 cups of vegetables – include a variety of colours and herbs to increase antioxidants: carrot, beetroot, coriander, rocket, cucumber, capsicum, tomato, parsley, mint, purple cabbage, celery, shallots, red onion. Fruit can work in salad too like grated apple, pear and berries

Roast a large batch of vegetables that you then have handy for the rest of the week: sweet potato, pumpkin, zucchini, broccoli, tomato, mushrooms, capsicum, eggplant, carrot, beetroot – add garlic and dried oregano and basil for flavour

Never underestimate meat and ‘3 veg’ – but make veggies the main portion of your plate – steamed peas, broccoli, beans, snow peas etc with mashed potato, pumpkin or sweet potato and spinach sautéed with garlic and chilli

Casseroles with heaps of veggies

Chunky veggie soups with some meat

Bolognaise with grated carrot, zucchini and lots of tomato and herbs

Snacks:

Munch on veggie sticks and hummus

A piece of fruit with some nuts and seeds

Zucchini and vegetable fritters


If you really struggle to eat enough fruit and veg, just aim to increase your intake by 1 serving at a time until you are hitting your 10 serves. I find being organised the best way to make this happen – so don’t forget to meal plan and cook/prepare ahead of time.

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