Never mind 5-a-day - just one more veggie could make a difference

April 11, 2024

Never mind 5-a-day - just one more veggie could make a difference

Vegetables are important for a balanced diet and could save the health care system millions if more people ate just one more every day. PHOTO: Ryan Bos

WATCH: Ryan Bos explains the idea behind 'one more veg' - while preparing his dinner

New Zealanders could save the health care system millions of dollars if everyone ate one more vegetable a day, according to a new initiative.

Add One More Vegetable aims to improve healthy diets by encouraging people to simply add one more vegetable a day.

It comes as not enough New Zealanders are eating the recommended number of vegetables, says Julie North, Vegetables.co.nz health and communications manager, and registered nutritionist.

“The data we do have shows roughly around 10% of the population are able to eat the amount that’s recommended by the Ministry of Health”.

The ministry's website recommends people should eat at least five servings of vegetables a day for a balanced diet.

But, says North, “we know there’s an awful lot of people out there who aren’t currently eating at that level, and we’d love to encourage all of those people”.

Vegetables New Zealand  says there are several barriers making it difficult for people to get the recommended amount.

“When you talk to consumers, they cite cost, confidence, they don’t quite know what to do with the vegetables they might buy,” says Andrew Bristol, stakeholder engagement and communications manager.

North says the initiative is especially designed to help those who struggle to eat the recommended daily amount.

“We don’t want people to be daunted by five, we just want to encourage people to think, actually I could add one into my day.

“And that’s certainly still going to be a benefit.”

The health care system could see a saving of $830 million over a lifetime if every New Zealander added one more vegetable to their diet every day, according to a 2023 University of Otago report.

North says, “those people who manage to consume higher amounts of vegetables, tend to have lower rates of heart disease and type two diabetes”.

“So, if we can help through dietary means to improve diets, to improve those statistics, then that releases some of the burdens of managing those illnesses on the health care system”.

Add One More Vegetable provides people with simple ideas to add one more vegetable a day.

“Dishes that a lot of people love, like lasagne and spaghetti bolognese, you can quite easily add a lot of vegetables into those, and a lot of people actually aren’t bothered by that in the slightest.

“You can grate in courgette, carrot and finely chopped onion, and all those will go into mince dishes really easily,” she says.

The initiative is run by Vegetables.co.nz in partnership with the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust.

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