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Ask the Expert Archive

Is it crucial to eat cruciferous vegetables every week? How many servings? Since peanuts are legumes, do they count as a vegetable? What processes can vegetables and fruits undergo that negates their positive value as contributors to a healthy diet?

There is not a specific recommendation for consumption of cruciferous vegetables.  Cruciferous vegetables are chock full of nutrients that are important for a health.  They also contain a variety of phytochemicals that potentially have important health benefits.  We encourage consuming a wide variety of vegetables (and fruits too !).  Since there are a variety of cruciferous vegetables available almost all year round, consuming them regularly is easy to do and contributes to variety in the diet.  They can be prepared in many different ways to add interest and variety.

Although peanuts are a legume in the botanical sense, they are used as a nut in the culinary sense. Their macronutrient content (carbohydrate, protein and fat) more closely resembles nuts, and they are not counted as a vegetable.

Any type of processing of fruits and vegetables – cooking, canning, drying – will have some effect on nutritive value, although in most cases, it is very small.  Improper storage of fruits and vegetables can affect nutrient content, as can overcooking in too much water.  (Tips for proper storage on are this website !)  In other instances, how the fruit or vegetable is prepared or seasoned may contribute a negative component to your diet, such as too much fat from frying, or too much sugar as in a fruit dessert. To maximize the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, include them in your diet in healthful ways that do not add unnecessary calories from fat and sugar.

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The Expert: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, is the President and CEO of the Produce for Better Health (PBH) Foundation. At PBH, she guides the Foundation’s efforts to advance the overall effort of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
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