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Good Question: How Many Fruits & Veggies Should We Be Eating?

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released its “eat your fruits and vegetables” reminder. It used to be the experts suggested people eat between 3 to 5 servings of vegetables and 2 to 4 servings of fruits each day. But now the CDC says the number of servings depends on the person.

The USDA food pyramid was replaced in 2011, partly because few people understood the size of a serving. Now, health officials use a plate to show people how many fruits and vegetables they need to get the proper amount of vitamins and nutrients.

Chris Dove says he eats between three and four servings a day, but thinks people are supposed to eat between six and nine. The average Minnesotan eats 1.5 servings and fruits and vegetables a day.

How many fruits and vegetables we should eat “depends on how many calories you need a day,” says Rachael Halvorson, a dietician with Twin Cities Nutrition Consultants.

“Somebody [of a smaller] size needs a certain amount of calories,” she said. “Think about football players, they’re going to a much larger amount of calories and their fruits and vegetables needs will be higher, so there’s no quantity for one person. It’s very individualized.”

The CDC has a calculator on its website. How many servings of fruits and vegetables a person should eat depends on age, gender and how much a person exercises.

It ranges between 1.5 and 2.5 servings of fruits and two and four servings of vegetables.

One serving can be: eight strawberries, twelve baby carrots, one banana, ten broccoli florets or one ear of corn.

“To get that quantity in you really should be looking at them in every meal and even as snack options,” said Halvorson.

Potato chips and French fries don’t count, but juice does if it’s 100 percent juice.

Halvorson says fresh, frozen or canned vegetables can be eaten. Celery with peanut butter is still considered a vegetable, but she says avoid topping your fruits or vegetables with creams, butters or cheeses.

“There we’re starting to negate the benefits.”

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