- Most adults should eat 5-6 servings of vegetables every day.
- A standard serve is about 75 grams.
- You should aim to dedicate one-third of each meal to vegetables.
- Eating raw vegetables can help you make the most out of their nutrients.
- Many vegetables have potential health benefits - read about 10 of them here.
With a bombardment of health-related trends, advice and diet tips emerging from every direction, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed.
While it’s often difficult to separate fact from fiction, bringing things back to basics is a great place to start. Vegetables are, and always will be, an essential component of any nutritious diet.
But knowing exactly how many servings of vegetables you should aim to eat per day isn’t always easy to figure out.
How many servings of vegetables do you need per day?
To get the proper nutrients you need to thrive, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that most adults should eat 5-6 servings of vegetables every day. And it’s a similar story when talking about vegetables for kids.
But how much is a ‘serve’ of vegetables? A standard serve is about 75 grams (100-350 kilojoules), although this will vary depending on the type of vegetable you’re measuring.
For example, the following vegetables are all considered to be one standard serving:
- ½ cup cooked green or orange vegetables
- 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 or other starchy vegetables
- 1 medium tomato
Vegetables and their potential health benefits
Somewhere along the line, you’ve probably heard the phrase “eat the rainbow”. It’s true that when it comes to vegetables, variety is equally as important as quantity.
Not only will mixing things up help keep your meals interesting, but different vegetables offer different nutrients.
Here’s some of the potential health benefits of 9 popular vegetables:
- Spinach: rich in iron for energy and healthy blood as well as magnesium to help support muscle and nerve function
- Kale: loaded with Vitamin K, Vitamin C and Vitamin A!
- Peas: high in fibre, which helps supports good bacteria in the gut and helps promotes a healthy digestive tract and regular bowel movements
- Sweet potatoes: ranks low on the glycemic index and is rich in fibre, so it may help regulate blood sugar
- Beetroot: a rich source of phytochemicals and bioactive compounds
- Carrot: contains Vitamin A which helps with healthy vision
- Alfalfa sprouts: contain phytonutrients with antioxidant and immune-stimulant activity
- Seaweed: high in iodine, which is essential for thyroid function
- Garlic: has been used as a natural antibacterial since the 16th century
How do you eat enough vegetables?
So, now that we know how many vegetables equal a serving and some of their potential benefits, how can we make eating enough of them a reality?
When preparing a meal, The Australian Dietary Guidelines indicate that you should aim to dedicate one-third of it to vegetables. While this expectation may seem daunting, the variety and versatility of vegetables make it easier to achieve than you’d think.
Effortlessly increase your intake by slipping your choice of vegetable into existing dishes like pasta, stir-fries and soups. Or, if you’re planning on preparing a meal that’s lacking in vegetables, try incorporating a simple side salad. Don’t be afraid to get creative – there’s loads of fun recipes online for inspiration!
The healthylife Food Tracker is a free tool to help you achieve a more balanced diet, vegetables included!
Is fresh really best?
It’s important to note that cooking vegetables can often reduce some of their nutrients and phytochemicals. By researching what vegetables are in season now and experimenting with eating raw vegetables from time to time, you can make the most of vegetables.
Don’t worry, we’re not talking about snacking on raw potatoes – think crisp cucumber sandwiches, zesty guacamole, refreshing green smoothies, or homemade bruschetta topped with sweet, juicy tomatoes.
Give your body the gift of vegetables
Whether you’re grating, grilling, steaming, roasting or stir-frying, vegetables are undoubtedly one of the best foods you can put into your body.
With the potential to help reduce some long-term health conditions and digestive problems, they’re an easy way to improve your overall wellbeing.
Once you know how many servings of vegetables you should aim to eat per day, you can add essential nutrients into your diet.
- How to create a meal plan that works
- How to get more veggies in your toddler’s diet
- Is this a vegetable?
Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board September 2021.