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(Dmitriy Shironosov/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Dmitriy Shironosov/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Ask a health expert

Fruits and vegetables: how much should I really eat daily? Add to ...

The question

When a dietitian talks of five servings of fruit and vegetables, does that mean five servings of fruits AND five servings of vegetables? Or does it mean any combination of the two that total five? What exactly is a serving?

The answer

Actually, Canadians are recommended to eat 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The daily minimum number of servings was increased from 5 to 7 with the 2007 release of Canada's Food Guide. You'll be relieved to know that we mean 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables combined, not 7 fruit servings and 7 vegetables servings.

One serving is equal to one medium sized fruit, ½ grapefruit, 1 cup of fruit salad, ¼ cup dried fruit, ½ cup 100% fruit juice, ½ cup of cooked or raw vegetables, 1 cup salad greens, and ½ cup 100% vegetable juice.

It takes planning to meet your daily target of 7 servings. When I advise my clients on their diet, I encourage them to practice the following guidelines for fruit and vegetables:

• At breakfast, always include one or two fruit servings (e.g. ½ cup of berries, 1 small banana, ¼ cup of dried cranberries, or ½ cup/125 ml of pure fruit juice).

• At lunch, be sure to add at least one vegetable serving (e.g. ½ cup of baby carrots, 1 cup of green salad, or ½ cup of low sodium vegetable juice).

• For between meal snacks, eat least one fruit serving (e.g. 4 dried apricots, 1 medium sized orange or pear, or ½ cup of unsweetened applesauce.) and one vegetable serving (e.g. ½ cup of raw veggie sticks).

• At dinner, include at least three vegetable servings (e.g. ½ cup cooked carrots, 5 asparagus spears, and one cup of green salad).

• To increase the number of fruit and vegetable servings you eat each day, you can also increase your portion size.

Send dietitian Leslie Beck your questions at dietitian@globeandmail.com. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Leslie Beck.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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