Eat up! Your vegetable waste can make you healthier

17 October 2019

It’s easy to dismiss the parts of the vegetable most people don’t customarily use. 

But during National Nutrition Week (13 – 19 October), people are being encouraged to eat vegetable skins, stalks and leaves that they might normally discard, and turn them into nutrient rich meals.

A continuation of Nutrition Australia’s Try For 5 campaign, the emphasis on increasing vegetable intake comes in the wake of figures which show that less than 4% of Australian adults and less than 1% of children & teenagers are eating their recommended five serves of vegetables a day. 

It’s a critically important message for our mouths (and of course bodies overall) because the reality is that our eating habits play a major role in tooth decay, which is a diet-related disease. Sugar in the food and drinks we eat are consumed by bacteria to produce acid that attacks the tooth’s enamel surface to cause decay. (Read more about the link between diet and oral health.) 

Eating more vegetables, drinking more tap water, and limiting sugary snacks to mealtime, rather than between meals, are three major actions things people can do to increase their oral and general health. Numerous vegetables include important vitamins and minerals which promote healthy teeth and gums while eating raw vegetables, such as carrots and celery, help to stimulate saliva which acts to cleanse the mouth of food particles and acids.   

Key tips to increase your intake of vegetables include: 

- Eat more parts of your vegetables such as the skins, stalks and leaves.
- Use up your ageing vegetables that would otherwise go in the bin.
- Choose “ugly” and “imperfect” vegetables to prevent them going to landfill. They’re just as nutritious, and often cheaper.
- Give ageing vegetables a second life by adding them to vegetable soups, stir fries or by creating your own vegetable stock.
- Have some “go to” recipes up your sleeve that will help you use up your ageing vegetables.
- Learn how to store different types of vegetables, so they stay fresh for as long as possible.. 

For more information on ways to keep your oral health in tip-top shape, go to Your Dental Health and visit Australia’s Oral Health Tracker.