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Ask Tufts Experts November 2014 Issue

Q. When the advice says, "Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily," does that mean five fruits plus five vegetables (10 total servings) or five total?

A. The answer is five total, says Helen Rasmussen PhD, RD, HNRCA senior research dietitian, but the actual recommendations are a bit more complicated. “The MyPlate website has some excellent resources for serving-size guidance. Specifically for individuals over age 51, the daily recommendations are as follows: Females: 2 1/2 cups vegetables, 1 1/2 cups fruit;  males: 2 1/2 cups vegetables, 2 cups fruit.

“These amounts are set for individuals who only get less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. Once you bump up your exercise, you can increase your intakes of these two nutrient-dense food groups. The MyPlate website has serving-size illustrations in its Fruit or Vegetable Group Food Gallery. This feature illustrates what a ‘serving size’ means, especially for non-flexible (foods that don’t compact into cup servings) fruits or vegetables.”

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