Tuesday, July 03, 2007

How much fruit do you eat each day?

From farm fruit stands, to farmers’ markets, to supermarkets, fresh local fruit is available for sale here in the West.

If you’re from another part of the country, you don’t know what you’re missing: Being so close here to some of these fruit producers, once you bite into some of the juicy, sweet peaches, apricots, nectarines, cherries, blueberries, watermelons and other fruit, you won’t ever want to eat another one of those dry, pulpy fruits that occasionally shows up at the stores in the Plains or Midwest. You might think twice about trying some of those fruits from foreign countries that help supply your shopping cart in the off-season.

The same with vegetables: the closer you can get to the people who produce the food, the fresher the vegetables and tastier they are.

However, how many of us really stop to enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables as much as we should?

NWCN, the cable television network here in the Pacific Northwest, aired today a story by reporter Tim Robinson from Seattle. He questioned a few members of the public about how many servings of fruits and vegetables they ate per day.

Some answered five, some said two: Some obviously searched to say whatever answer they felt he might want and that sounded right.

But perhaps better questions would have been: what do you eat? What do you consider a serving? What size and amounts of servings are right for you?

Robinson interviewed University of Washington dietician Susan Adams about servings. She noted that people should eat 5-13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Why the range? It depends on the size of the person. Larger people should consume more servings. She also explained that not all fruit are the same serving size. For example, a large banana might actually be two servings. How big a salad might be will also affect serving size. A glass of juice might have more sugar than fruit content.

Adams shared a valuable rule to follow when figuring out how big or small a serving is: a serving is about the size of a fist. So, for example, a fistful of lettuce would count as a serving. Fruit about the size of a fist — such as an apple — will also serve as a serving.

As the television announcers joked, it’s no longer an apple a day that might keep you healthy — try five apples. Of course, the apple growers would love that.

During this time of year, when a lot of fruits and vegetables are being harvested, this is an ideal time for farmers to encourage the public to consume more of the products.

It’s good business, but it’s also great health advice.

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