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Does Dried Fruit Count Toward Your 5-A-Day?

Getting plenty of fruits and veggies in your diet helps reduce your chronic diseases risks and aids in healthy weight management. If you're eating 2,200 - 2,400 calories per day, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggest eating two portions of fruit and three servings of veggies on a daily basis, equaling five a day. Dried fruit is part of the fruit group and counts toward meeting your daily fruit requirement, but a portion of dried fruit is smaller than a serving of fresh or frozen fruit.

4driedfruit.jpgHow Many Servings Should I Eat?

Not everyone has a fruit and veggie requirement of five a day. The number of fruits you should eat daily depends on your body's calorie needs. If you're eating 1,200 calories daily to lose weight, aim for 1 cup of fruit; if you're eating 1,400 to 1,800 calories per day you need 1.5 cups of fruit; if you're eating 2,000 to 2,600 calories aim for 2 cups of fruit; and if you're eating 2,800 to 3,200 calories daily you should eat 2.5 cups of fruit each day, suggests the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Diets containing 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day generally lead to weight loss in many adults.

What Counts as a Cup

One cup of fresh fruit or 100-percent fruit juice is one portion from the fruit group, but a 1-cup equivalent of dried fruit is smaller. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate.gov notes that 1/2 cup of dried fruit equals 1 cup from the fruit group. This is because dried fruit contains much less water than fresh fruit or juice, so contains more calories per volume.

Why Does Dried Fruit Count?

Even though dried fruit lacks the water provided by fresh fruit and fruit juice, dried fruit is still rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. That's why dried fruit still counts toward your five-a-day, or however many servings of fruits and veggies you require based on your body's calorie needs.

Concerns about Calories

If you're trying to cut calories to lose weight, opt for fresh fruit instead of dried fruit. Even though a portion of dried fruit is smaller than a portion of fresh fruit, it's still higher in calories. The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database notes that 1 cup of grapes provides 104 calories, while 1/2 cup of unpacked raisins contains 217 calories. Some dried fruit even contains added sugar, which further increases the calories you're getting in each portion.

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An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as TheNest.com and JillianMichaels.com.

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