Eating plenty of fruit and vegies not only contributes to good health, but also protects against a number of diseases and helps maintain a healthy weight.
Most of the population eat only half the amount of fruit and vegies recommended for good health. Adults need to eat at least 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegies each day. The amount children need depends on their age.
Why should children eat more fruit and vegetables?
We all know fruit and vegetables are good for us, and they taste great! They are packed full of vitamins, minerals and fibre and come in their own wrapper. Regularly eating diets high in fruit and vegetables protects us against a number of diseases. Most children are not eating enough fruit and vegetables to establish healthy eating habits for life. See recommended daily serves.
Citrus fruits (orange, mandarin, and grapefruit), nectarines, pineapple, strawberries and kiwi fruit are good sources of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for healthy teeth and bones. It also increases the absorption of iron from foods, and promotes wound healing.
Apricots, rockmelons, mangoes, carrots and red capsicum are good sources of Vitamin A which helps keep skin and eyes healthy and protects the body against infection. Dietary fibre found in fruit and vegetables helps keep the bowel healthy and prevent constipation.
Here you can find out about the benefits of fruit and vegies, nifty ways to get more fruit and vegies into your day, plus some super simple tasty recipes.
How many fruit and vegetables do children need to eat?
Children are encouraged to Go for 2&5 It is important to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Include raw and cooked, and many different colours. The amount of fruit and vegetables recommended depends on age, appetite and activity levels.
Recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables for children and adolescents
Age of child (years)
Source: The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
Lower serve recommendations are for children who eat a diet high in cereal foods (eg. rice, pasta and breads). Higher serve recommendations are for children who eat a diet that is more evenly spread across the five food groups.
What is a serve of fruit?
One serve of fruit is equal to one medium piece piece of fruit, two smaller pieces or 1 cup of chopped fruit.
What is a serve of vegetables?
One serve of vegetables is equal to one medium potato, ½ cup cooked vegetables (including legumes) or one cup of salad vegetables.
Should kids eat snacks like muesli bars or fruit leathers/straps?
No. Foods such as muesli bars and fruit leathers are often high in sugar and have a tendency to stick to teeth. Eating sugary foods can increase the risk of tooth decay. It is best to limit sugar intake to meal times when the increased saliva flow provides a cleansing action -helping to protect teeth.
Should we let kids eat dried fruit?
The sugars found in fresh fruit and vegetables are safe for teeth. Dried fruits, such as sultanas and dried apricots contain high concentrated natural sugar, however, due to their sticky nature they tend to cling to teeth. Although dried fruit is permitted, it is not recommended, fresh fruit or vegetables are the best choice.
How can we make fruit and vegetables more appealing to children?
Research has found that children prefer small, cold, crisp, juicy and sweet fruits and colourful, crisp, fresh vegetables. Try the following tips to encourage children to enjoy fruit and vegetables
Buy a variety of seasonal fresh fruit so children don't become bored
Involve children in choosing what fruit and vegetables to buy
Cut fruit and vegetables into small manageable pieces
Can we replace fresh fruit and vegetables or water with juice?
No. The idea is to eat fresh fruit or vegetables and drink water.
Fresh fruit and vegetables have more fibre, vitamins and minerals than fruit juice. Since there is no fibre in fruit juice it does not fill you up as much as fruit and vegetables do.
Did you know that you would need to process over three apples to get just one glass of apple juice? Fruit juice contains high concentrations of fruit sugar and often added sugar. Drinking fruit juice often can cause tooth decay and reduce a child's appetite.
Munchkins Fun Recipe #1: Coco Banana Bites
This is a fun recipe to do with a friend - one can dip the banana and the other can roll it in the coconut. Use firm bananas that don't squash when you hold them. This recipe makes about 10 bite-sized pieces.
2 medium sized bananas
1/2 cup desiccated coconut Lemon squeezer
Chopping knife and board
Greaseproof paper (optional)