New research: Why Victorians miss out on their five a day

Tuesday 12 March, 2013

More than one in two Victorian adults claim they can't fit in five serves of vegies a day, according to new research from Cancer Council Victoria.

Of the 81 per cent of adults who admitted they don't always put away the recommended daily intake, 53 per cent said it was because it's too hard to fit them in, and 20 per cent said they had no time to prepare them.

When asked what would encourage them to eat more vegetables, 35 per cent of respondents said having more time.

"It's common knowledge that most Australians don't eat enough fruit and vegetables," said Craig Sinclair, Director of the Cancer Prevention Centre at Cancer Council Victoria.

"It's unfortunate because fruit and vegetables contain lots of essential nutrients and are naturally low in fat, which helps maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many chronic diseases including cancer," he said.

According to the Newspoll survey, in addition to lack of time, the most common reasons for Victorians failing to consume five serves of vegies a day include; boredom from eating the same vegetables (18%), cost (15%) and not liking the taste (10%).

However, more than three quarters of respondents (77%) said they could be encouraged to eat more vegies if; they were more affordable (33%), they knew more interesting recipes (29%), they knew how to cook different types of vegetables (20%) and if they could find a wider range of products (16%).

MasterChef 2010 runner-up, Callum Hann, believes commonly perceived barriers to getting five a day simply don't cut it.

"We don't have to wait until dinner to start our daily vegie intake, and nor do we need to spend all day preparing healthy, tasty, vegie-rich meals," said Hann.

"Getting on your way to five a day can be as simple as adding some spinach or beets to your morning smoothie, including salad in your cheese roll for lunch, or snacking on raw vegies like carrot and celery.

"When it comes to cooking your vegies there are countless different and simple methods to keep your taste buds on their toes. Try steaming, blanching, roasting, stir-frying, boiling or sautéing - there are so many appliances available to help get the job done quickly," he said.

"If you're in a vegie rut or worried about the cost, try to select what's in season instead of just buying what you're used to eating. Vegetables in season will always be more affordable and taste their best.

"Food and cooking should be about bringing people together. If you're bored and you can't think of new recipes or ways to prepare your vegies, ask your friends and family, or open up those cookbooks that have been gathering dust on your kitchen shelf. There are so many fresh ideas at our disposal, being bored is no excuse!"

A serve of vegetables includes one cup of salad, half a cup of legumes such as chickpeas or lentils, or half a cup of cooked vegetables.

Visit www.cutyourcancerrisk.org.au for ideas on how to maintain a healthy weight and other tips for cutting your cancer risk.

Updated: 12 Mar, 2013