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We’ve all heard that we should be consuming 5 serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit every day. What does that actually look like? What is a serve? And does a serve differ from vegie to vegie and from fruit to fruit? Let us break it down for you.

According to the Australian government initiative ‘Go for 2 & 5” a serve is different for fruit and vegetables. For vegetables a serve is 75 grams. So that’s ½ cup of cooked vegetables or cooked legumes such as beans, peas and lentils, 1 medium potato or 1 cup of salad vegetables.

For fruit, one serve is 150 grams. 1 medium sized piece such as an apple, 2 small pieces of fruit like apricots, 1 cup of chopped or tinned fruit, ½ cup of 100% fruit juice or 1 ½ tablespoons of dried fruit such as sultanas

But what serves are recommended for children? The same government initiative recommends, while the serving sizes stay the same the number of serves should be adjusted according to the child’s age. The recommended minimum serves, per day for children are:

1 fruit and 2 vegetable       4 -7 years of age

1 fruit and 3 vegetable       8-11 years of age

3 fruit and 4 vegetable       12-18 years of age

When it comes to vegetables fresh contains more nutrients as long as they are eaten as soon as possible after harvest. Fresh vegetable will be affected by time in transport and storage as well as temperature. The longer they are stored and the more they are exposed to air and light, the more vitamins and nutrients they will lose. Frozen vegetables offer a fantastic alternative. Due to the snap-freezing process they are fairly equal to fresh in terms of nutrients and even contain more Vitamin C and carotene. Canned vegetables suffer the harshest treatment due to the heat sealing process which reduces the nutritional content. They can also be between 5 -10 higher in salt than fresh vegetables. Tomatoes, beetroot, chickpeas and kidney beans are good canned vegetable options.

For fruit – fresh is best. Many fruit do not freeze well and canned varieties are pre-cooked and often high in sugar.

Overall for your daily vegetable serves, aim for a combination of raw and cooked vegetables and salad vegetables for the best nutritional intake. When cooking, cook for the shortest time possible to retain as many vitamins and nutrients as you can. Within your 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit every day try for a variety of types and colours to get the most benefit.

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