Oral Health Benefits of Vegetables: Try for 5

Try for 5 is an annual campaign powered by Nutrition Australia encouraging Australians to increase their vegetable consumption to the recommended five serves per day.

It is now more important than ever to look after your overall health and wellbeing and good nutrition plays a vital part. National Nutrition Week runs from the 11th until the 17th of October and raises awareness about the important role of food on our health.

We know that having a high intake of plant foods such as fruit and vegetables is important for our health, however, sadly in Australia only 7% of adults and 5% of children are eating sufficient serves of vegetables.

For National Nutrition Week, local dental practices Avoca Beach Dental, Warnervale Dental, Saratoga Dental, Empire Bay Dental and Bonnells Bay Dental teamed up again with local leading dietitians from Eatsense.

Read on to find out what the health benefits of vegetables are and some handy tips to help you reach your recommended five serves!

What are the health benefits of vegetables?

The scientific evidence to support the health benefits of eating vegetables including legumes such as chickpeas and lentils has been around for many years and continues to grow, especially for heart disease which is one of Australia’s leading killers.

Vegetables contain a wide range of nutrients which simultaneously work to reduce your risk of certain conditions and boost your health. These nutrients include:

  • Fluid
  • Fibre
  • Folate
  • Vitamin C
  • Minerals
  • Phytochemicals
  • Antioxidants

Different vegetables can help protect our bodies in different ways, so it’s important to choose a variety and include as many different colours as possible. At main meals aim for at least three different coloured vegetables.
All vegetables provide vitamin C, however capsicum, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, Asian greens and tomatoes are particularly high in vitamin C.

Most vegetables are associated with reduced risk of site specific cancers. Green vegetables (including some salad vegetables), beetroot, cauliflower, asparagus, dried peas, beans and lentils are a good source of folate which is important for boosting fertility.

Cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and bok choy) are believed to have compounds which provide protection against some cancers.

Legumes such as chickpeas, beans and lentils are rich in a type of fibre called soluble fibre which can help lower blood cholesterol levels. They are also a source of carbohydrate and have a low glycemic index (GI), which means they are broken down more slowly and keep you fuller for longer. This makes them good for preventing and managing type two diabetes.

The fibre in vegetables (and fruit) is important for our gut health and is also thought to reduce the risk of some cancers, including colorectal cancer.

What does a serve of vegetables look like?

A standard serve of vegetables is about 75g or:

  • ½ cup cooked green or orange vegetables etc broccoli, spinach, carrots or pumpkin
  • ½ cup cooked dried or canned beans, peas or lentils
  • 1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables
  • ½ cup sweet corn
  • ½ medium potato, sweet potato or other starchy vegetable e.g. taro
  • 1 medium tomato

What are some handy tips for boosting your vegetable intake?

  • Use avocado instead of butter
  • Grate carrot, zucchini and capsicum and add to burger patties and bolognese mince
  • Replace 50% of mince in dishes with lentils or beans
  • Add split pea mix to soup recipes
  • Add chickpeas or soybeans to stir-fry dishes
  • Snack oven roasted chickpeas or fava beans between meals
  • Add a tin of four bean mix to salads
  • Snack on hummus and vegetable sticks
  • Add sauteed mushrooms, tomato and spinach to your eggs at breakfast
  • Serve tacos and mexican meals with black beans
  • Make a green smoothie with avocado, baby spinach and frozen banana
  • Bulk up meals with frozen veggies
  • Aim for 50% of your plate at lunch and dinner to be filled with salad or vegetables
  • Make savoury muffins or slice with corn and grated veggies
  • Swap flour in your brownies for mashed sweet potato

Would you like more nutrition pointers for your oral health? Read more on 3 Tips to a Good Diet for Healthy Teeth.