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Why A Staggering Number Of Aussies Aren't Eating Their Veggies

Aussies may be spending more money on fresh produce, but that doesn't mean they're eating their daily greens.

A small six per cent of NSW residents are eating the recommended intake of five vegetables and two pieces of fruit a day, according to new data from Cancer Council NSW.

Only 27 per cent of the 1,613 people surveyed believed they already ate enough vegetables -- down five per cent from the last survey in 2016.

The numbers were revealed in the third Cancer Prevention Community study, which measures the behaviours and attitudes of adults on cancer risk and prevention.

Just 27 per cent of respondents said they believed they ate enough vegetables. Image: Getty

When it came to eating enough vegetables, about 10 per cent of respondents said they were "too lazy", while 11 per cent said they were "too busy to buy and prepare" them.

About 41 per cent of people had enough fruit in their diet, while 21 per cent said they were "too lazy" to eat it.

Nearly a quarter of people surveyed said fruit was too expensive to buy, while 12 per cent said the same about vegetables.

Those surveyed said the price of fruit and vegetables is a barrier to buying them. Image: Getty

According to global data and measurement company Nielsen, more money is being spent on fresh produce. But that does not necessarily mean more produce is being bought.

Chanel Day, Nielsen's Director of Fresh (the sector specialising in fresh produce), told 10 daily although there has been a rise in the amount of money spent on fruit and vegetables, volume sales have "remained relatively flat."

"For the year ending 1 December 2019, total dollar sales for vegetables was up 5.2 per cent and fruit was up 4.3 per cent compared to the prior year," she said.

Day said produce that has seen both dollar and volume growth include raspberries, blackberries, grapes and mandarins, along with fresh salad, cucumbers and leafy Asian vegetables.

"... Our data shows that there is certainly potential for fruit and vegetables to represent a higher portion of shoppers’ spend," she said.

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The survey findings are particularly concerning for the Cancer Council. Fruit and vegetables contain protective substances, such as antioxidants, that protect against cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) and cancer cells.

"Fruit and vegetables are high in fibre and there is strong evidence that foods containing fibre protect against cancers of the bowel, oesophagus, mouth, pharynx and larynx," a Cancer Council spokesperson told 10 daily.

"Fruits and vegetables are essential for a healthy balanced diet and are a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals."

Research suggests fruit and vegetables can help prevent certain cancers. Image: Getty

One in five participants said they didn't eat vegetables out of habit -- a trend that Nina Tan, Cancer Council NSW’s Senior Nutrition Project Officer, wants to change.

"We want to make it as easy as possible for people to up their fruit and veg consumption," she said.

"But often people associate eating healthily with spending hours in the kitchen or supermarket."

The Cancel Council has worked with nutrition experts to develop a website for parents and children that offers simple, budget-friendly lunchbox ideas packed with fruit and vegetables.

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"The Healthy Lunch Box website makes healthy eating simple, quick and fun, and the recipes are affordable," Tan said.

“What we love about the site is that each recipe has been created with a consideration for time, cost, simplicity and of course, health; something that everyone can benefit from."