How Many “Servings” of Fruit and Vegetables?

A few days ago, one of our members found this ad in an Adventist publication and shared it with the group.

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First of all, this tidbit is not specifically for diabetics but for the general public. It focused on heart attack, stroke, and cancer, not diabetes.

The first thing I wondered was where they got the idea that five (5) servings a day of fruit and vegetables was any kind of standard. According to all the food pyramids of past eras, the daily recommendations for fruit ranged from 3 to 4 servings and vegetables ranged from 3 to 9 servings, for a total of 6 to 13 servings! Interestingly, the vegan food pyramids’ recommendation was the lowest, at 2-4 servings of fruit and 3-5 servings of vegetables. In reality, the most recent recommendations from the USDA and American Diabetes Association do not specify number of servings a day but focus on what your plate should look like per meal.

But what struck me more was their statement that “three heaping tablespoons of cooked vegetables” counted as one serving! And they did not specify what type of vegetable, whether non-starchy or starchy. I will agree that “three heaping tablespoons” (between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup) is probably more than enough of any starchy vegetable (potatoes, winter squash, etc.). But an adequate serving of cooked non-starchy vegetables would be between 1/2 cup to 1 cup, depending on density. For leafy greens, one (1) serving (depending on whether raw or cooked) would be 1 to 2 cups!

The other thing that bothered me was their use of the term “small banana” without any specification of size.  According to CalorieKing, one banana would have to be Extra Small (less than 5″ long) to come anywhere close to being only one (1) serving as defined by the American Diabetes Association (approximately 15g of carbohydrates). Usually, the ADA defines one (1) serving of banana as half a banana (medium to large, 7-8″ long).

Conclusion: Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics enthusiastically recommends consumption of 1-2 cups of cooked non-starchy vegetables a day and 2-4 cups of leafy green vegetables (2 cups if cooked, 4 cups if raw).


Below are the links to an article that was the source of the ad, and to the study that was the basis of the magazine article:

https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/doi/10.1093/ije/dyw319/3039477/Fruit-and-vegetable-intake-and-the-risk-of

http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_22-2-2017-16-38-0

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