Fruits and vegetables benefit kids in many ways, including improved nutrition, decreased obesity risk and better school performance, but most children don’t get the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Only 22 percent of toddlers and preschoolers and only 16 percent of kids ages 6 to 11 meet the government’s recommendation, according to Ohio State research. One-half of children’s mealtime plates should be filled with fruits and vegetables in order to reap the benefits.
Recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables by age
Note: One serve of fruit is 150 grams (equal to 1 medium-sized apple; 2 smaller pieces (e.g. apricots); 1 cup of canned or chopped fruit; ½ cup (125ml) 99% unsweetened fruit juice; or 1½ tablespoons dried fruit). One serve of vegetables is 75 grams (equal to ½ cup cooked vegetables; 1/2 medium potato; 1 cup of salad vegetables; or ½ cup cooked legumes (dried beans, peas or lentils).
Put fruits and vegetables into every meal
It’s a good idea eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and to include some in every meal. There are lots of interesting and tasty ways to do this – fruit and vegetables can be served raw, baked, grated or diced. They can also be added to other ingredients.
- Put sliced banana or strawberries on cereal.
- Add chopped fruit to yoghurt.
- Make a smoothie using fresh or frozen fruit.
- Pack vegetable sticks in your lunch box.
- Try vegetable kebabs with your dinner.
- Top your pizza with sliced mushrooms and capsicum.
Eating fresh fruit is much better for you than a glass of fruit juice, which can have up to six teaspoons of sugar and very little dietary fibre.