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24 July 2003

How big is a portion of fruit or veggies?

What exactly is a serving of fruit and vegetables? Nutritionists advocate that everyone should eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. But how big or small is a "serving" ?

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What exactly is a serving of fruit and vegetables? Nutritionists advocate that everyone should eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. But how big or small is a "serving" ?

Portion sizes can vary considerably. Two tablespoons of vegetables count as one serving, as does a medium-sized piece of fruit, a bowl of salad, or a slice of a large fruit, such as melon. Even a glass of fruit or vegetable juice counts.

According to dieticians it doesn't matter whether the vegetables and fruit are raw or cooked.

The benefits of fruit and vegetables have been well documented. They include protection from stroke, heart disease and even some types of cancer.

Parents often have a hard time getting children to eat food that are good for them. Here are a few tips for parents on how to make it easier to get kids to swallow their fruit and veggies:

  • For quick dips, add pureed fruits - such as berries, mango or papaya - to yoghurt or non-fat sour cream, seasoned with honey. Serve with cut-up fruits.
  • Squeeze the juice of fresh oranges – four oranges have enough vitamin C for a twelve-year-old in winter time.
  • Don’t forget to top hot cereal with fruit.
  • Add finely grated cucumber to dressings and dips.
  • Puree strawberries or a mango with a little honey or sugar and serve 1/4 cup over yoghurt, cut fruit, or waffles.
  • Layer fresh fruit with low-fat yoghurt and serve in a parfait glass.
  • Use flavoured yoghurt for quick salad dressings (pineapple yoghurt with thinly sliced cabbage or grated carrots).
  • Substitute avocado for sour cream on tacos or burritos. It’s similar in fat and calorie content, but richer in nutrients.
  • Get two servings simply by slicing up bananas, strawberries or other fruit over a bowl of cereal and drinking a glass of 100 percent orange juice. Three-fourths of a cup of fruit juice constitutes a serving, as does 1/2 cup of fruit.
  • Use mashed avocado for topping on a baked potato instead of butter for a great taste packed with potassium and other nutrients.
  • Add chopped vegetables - such as broccoli or spinach - to your favourite rice or pasta mix.
  • Saute Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs in a little margarine for topping on green beans, broccoli, cauliflower or squash.
  • Don’t forget mushrooms for that steak - just five medium mushrooms make up a complete vegetable serving.
  • Bake or microwave root vegetables - like carrots, parsnips, turnips or onions - with honey.
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