Eat more fruits and vegetables everyday
The health of South Africans remains a concern with high levels of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. An increase in the intake of ultra-processed foods in the diet and a decrease in the intake of vegetables, and other more fibrous nutrient-rich foods, has been linked to the rise of overweight and obesity.
National Nutrition Week is celebrated every year from 9 to 15 October to create awareness among consumers about the importance of healthy eating.
The focus this year is the consumption of more vegetables and fruit every day.
Benefits of eating fruit and vegetables daily
- Eating more vegetables and fruit every day can help reduce the risk for obesity and can help prevent diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer.
- Eat more vegetables and fruit, i.e. at least three portions of vegetable and two portions of fruit. One serving of vegetables or fruit = approximately 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked, or 80g fresh and 30g dried Fresh, frozen, tinned vegetables or fruit ½ cup cooked; 1 cup diced and raw, leafy vegetables; 1 cup raw whole fruit; One medium (fist size) or two small; Dried fruit 30g or 2-3 pieces
- Choose vegetable and fruit snacks as part of a healthy eating plan
- Vegetable and fruit are important for the growth, development and health of infants and young chlidren.
- Growing vegetables and fruit is possible. It can be affordable and sustainable way to increase dietary diversity andimprove health outcomes.
Vegetables and fruit are important for the growth, development and health of infants and young children
Introducing the right foods at the right time is important to maintain children’s health and growth. In many cases, complementary feeding practices are suboptimal as it relates to dietary diversity and the inclusion of fruit and vegetables in the diet. Intake of dark green and orange vegetables are of particular concern for preventing vitamin A deficiency.
- Infants should be given only breastmilk for the first six months of life. Breastmilk contains all the energy, vitamins and other nutrients and water in the correct amounts that the baby needs. They should not be given any other food or fluids, not even water, except for medicine prescribed by a doctor or nurse.
- From the age of six months, appropriate and culturally acceptable complementary foods should be introduced, and breastfeeding continued until the child is at least two years old.
- From six to 12 months, give your baby dark-green leafy vegetables and orange-coloured vegetables and fruit every day. They can eat food from family meals, as long as the texture is appropriate for the child’s age*. There’s no need to buy special “baby foods” or expensive cereals. Eggs, meat and beans are important iron sources for your baby.
- A child’s Road-to-Health Book / Side-by-Side caregiver Message Book: How to Raise a Healthy and Happy Child, gives some ideas on types of foods, quantities and textures for children from six months to five years.
- Homemade foods for infants and young children can be healthier and more affordable than store-bought options. It can also be easy to prepare. Foods for family meals are suitable to use for infants and young children.
Do you want to help build your child’s brain and body? Avoid giving tea, coffee and sugary drinks and high-sugar, high-fat salty snacks to your child from a young age.
*Consult your Road-to-Health Booklet if you’re not sure what foods or textures to offer. Did you know a child’s Road-to-Health booklet gives plenty of ideas on types of foods, quantities and textures for children from six months to five years?
For more information: www.nutritionweek.co.za
The National Department of Health: www.health.gov.za
The Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA): www.adsa.org.za
The Nutrition Society of South Africa: www.nutritionsociety.co.za
The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA: www.heartfoundation.co.za
The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA): www.cansa.org.za
First Thousand Days Initiative: www.westerncape.gov.za/first-1000-days