In South Africa, the nutrition transition, which saw an increase in the intake of ultra-processed foods in the diet, such as sugary drinks 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, and the decrease in the intake of vegetables.
Limited vegetable and fruit consumption is not simply determined by limited nutrition knowledge or poor decision-making by households, but rather by a much wider set of social, economic and spatial factors. Some of these barriers to including adequate amounts of vegetables and fruit in the diet are availability, acceptability, preparation, peer pressure, food availability and affordability of food in school tuck shops, perceived time and effort and confusing recommendations.
The current global pandemic of Coronavirus (COVID-19), and measures taken to reduce its spread, have also disrupted food environments around the world, and the intake of unhealthy foods increased as fresh food supplies were more affected. COVID-19 also negatively impacted the economy and households’ purchasing power, which led to an increase in eating cheaper and unhealthier foods. Food systems are thus not delivering the healthy diets needed for nourishment and strong immune systems. There is an underproduction of beneficial foods such as vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts, and over-production of nutrient-poor foods.
Here are a few healthy snack ideas:
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) recommends a minimum of 400g or five portions for vegetables and fruit for health benefits. Most nutritional and global recommendations include consumption of at least two portions of fruits and three portions of vegetables per day for adults.
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|
|Raw, leafy vegetables||1 cup raw|
|Whole fruit||One medium (fist size) or two small|
|Dried fruit||30g or 2-3 pieces|
|100% fruit juice||125 ml (limit to 1 per day, if using)|
Infants should be breastfed exclusively during the first six months of life. From six months of age, breast milk should be complemented with a variety of adequate, safe and nutrient-dense foods. Salt and sugars should not be added to complementary foods. Include dark-green leafy vegetables and orange-coloured vegetables and fruit in your child’s meals every day. Portion size will be age specific.
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