Citing food consumption surveys by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) that showed Filipinos were eating only two servings of vegetables, or about 110 grams, a day from the 145-gram daily intake recorded in 1978, the Department of Health is urging all Filipino households and communities to plant vegetable in their backyard garden and other open spaces not only to curb malnutrition among children but to stop the high incidence of noncommunicable diseases in the country.
The DOH also highlighted FNRI data that showed only 67.7 percent of Filipino households had vegetable gardens or fruit trees in their backyards which is alarming considering that low fruit and vegetable intake is among the top 10 risk factors for global mortality based on a World Health Organization report,” said the DOH.
The WHO report attributed 1.7 million deaths globally per year to low fruit and vegetable intake.
According to health experts, one serving should be equivalent to a cup of raw leafy vegetables or half a cup of raw or cooked non-leafy vegetables.
Assistant Secretary Maria Bernardita Flores, executive director of the DOH’s National Nutrition Council (NNC), urged Filipinos to plant vegetables “in all possible places” as they are good sources of Vitamin A and iron nutrients which help boost a child’s immune system and development.
Infants 6 months old and above should be served pureed, mashed or finely cut green leafy and yellow vegetables mixed with rice porridge (lugaw) to complement breast milk, she said.
Flores said the NNC was concerned about data showing that infants 6-11 months old were fed only two grams of vegetables a day while 1-year-olds were given eight grams.
Oncologists or cancer doctors have said the ideal daily intake of vegetables and fruits is at least five servings, where a serving is as big as a fist.
“We encourage everyone to consume three or more servings of vegetables each day. Let us also eat our indigenous vegetables such as malunggay, saluyot, kangkong, kamote tops and ampalaya,” said Flores.#