To coincide with National Nutrition Week (October 15-21) the Heart Foundation is reminding Australian families to ‘Try for 5’.
It comes as Heart Foundation-funded researcher, Dr Katherine Livingstone (Deakin University) develops Veg4Me, a web-based app that aims to boost vegetable intake in young adults living in rural Victoria.
Try for 5 is an annual campaign led by Nutrition Australia that encourages Australians to increase their vegetable intake to the recommended five serves per day.
The Heart Foundation continues to be concerned that the proportion of Australian adults not meeting the recommended intake for veggies has increased over the past two decades to 92 per cent.
In addition to this, dairy and fruit are being consumed in consistently smaller than recommended amounts, while over one-third (35 per cent) of energy is from discretionary foods (such as cakes, ice cream, sausages, hamburgers, pizza and alcoholic drinks).
Heart Foundation Senior Dietitian Jemma O’Hanlon said, poor diet is a leading contributor to preventable heart disease.
“Including extra veggies in your diet daily will help to build healthy habits for you and your loved ones, reducing the risk of a heart attack or stroke in the future,
“It’s easier than you think to meet your daily five serves of veggies; they can feature as a snack, as a side dish to boost or complement your intake at main meals, or be the star of the main meal.” Ms O’Hanlon says.
With the cost of rising grocery bills, the Heart Foundation’s free to download Budget Family Recipe Book, is full of ideas to help families cook affordable and healthy versions of popular meals, with extra vegetables added for good measure.
“Using seasonal produce is key to affordability, but many of the hero ingredients in our recipe book can be substituted for frozen or canned varieties, allowing families to take advantage of supermarket specials without compromising nutritional value,” Ms O’Hanlon says.
Heart Foundation’s top picks for veggie-focused meals in the Budget Family Recipe Book
- Vegetarian lasagne
- Easy chicken nasi goreng
- Mexican vegetarian pizza
- Vegi-ful tuna pasta bake
- Loaded Veggie Shepherds Pie
The app that aims to boost vegetable intake in young adults living in rural Victoria
“Veg4Me is a new web-based app that’s been co-designed with young adults, local government, and the Heart Foundation to include a variety of features that will encourage young Australians to eat more vegetables,” Dr Livingstone says.
There are two versions of the web app – one that provides information that is personalised to individual preferences and one that is non-personalised.
“The version participants receive access to will be determined randomly when they register for the app.
“Young adults with access to personalised Veg4Me will receive vegetable-rich Heart Foundation recipes tailored to their dietary preferences, and interactive food environment maps centred on their local government area, a goal setting portal, a weekly newsletter and tips on how to prepare, cook and store vegetables.
“The app aims to improve the diets and heart health of young adults, while addressing the rural health crisis disadvantaging young Australians.” Dr Livingstone says.
Low vegetable intake is a key contributor to the heart disease crisis facing rural Australians; yet only 3 per cent of young adults living in rural areas have an adequate intake. If left unaddressed, low vegetable intake in young adults will track into later life, radically impacting on their own health, the health of their future children and perpetuating rural health disparities into future generations.
Nutrition Australia CEO Lucinda Hancock said vegetables are at the very centre of healthy eating and are a critical part of diets for people of all ages.
“They can safeguard us from chronic health conditions – such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease and obesity, but we still don’t eat as many as we should,” she said.