MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos are not eating as much vegetables as they should, nutrition experts warned.
From a daily average of 145 grams of greens in 1978, Filipinos consumed only 110 grams of vegetables a day in 2008, according to the National Nutrition Council (NCC).
The two figures are still significantly lower than the recommended fruit and vegetable intake of the World Health Organization of 400 grams a day.
The NCC attributed the low numbers to the Filipinos’ fast-paced lifestyle as well as the rise of quick-service restaurants and instant meals, making them lag behind their Asian neighbors.
“Filipinos are now eating more meat and less fruits and vegetables. They want more of the unhealthy kind, more salt or more sugar, and more calories,” Jovita Raval, officer-in-charge of the NCC’s nutrition information and education division, told ANC on Wednesday.
Raval also noted that some vegetables tend to be expensive, especially during typhoon season.
“With the typhoons, prices of vegetables could go up,” she said.
According to the WHO, about 1.7 million deaths worldwide are linked to low fruit and vegetable consumption.
Some of the diseases which may be caused by not eating enough greens are gastrointestinal cancer, ischemic heart disease and stroke.
In an effort to encourage more Filipinos to grab a plate of greens, the NCC is holding its 38th Nutrition Month this July with the theme “Pagkain ng Gulay Ugaliin, Araw-Araw Itong Ihain” (Eat your vegetables, serve them daily).
Aside from its lineup of activities, the agency has also compiled a recipe book of vegetable-based dishes to help Filipinos prepare cheap and healthy meals.
How much veggies should we eat?
At least three servings a day
One serving of vegetables is equal to:
- 1 cup raw leafy vegetables, or
- 1/2 cup raw non-leafy vegetables, or
- 1/2 cup cooked leafy or non-leafy vegetables
One of the recipes is a vegetable burger containing chopped malunggay, tofu, mongo and squash.
The NCC is also encouraging Filipinos to plant vegetables at home and in school, and get children involved in gardening and food preparation to instill the habit of eating healthy.
“We should start them young. At six months, start giving vegetables to children, let them eat at least three tablespoons of vegetables,” Raval said. “As parents, always serve vegetables and eat them yourselves.”
“Start a home garden and involve your children. One square meter [of land] can already have several vegetables,” she added. -- With ANC