Fruits vs. Veggies: Are They “Nutritionally Equivalent?”

As I was researching the topic of how to encourage kids to eat more vegetables, I kept running across statements that fruits and vegetables were basically interchangeable, like this one from child feeding expert Ellyn Satter’s site.

Fruits and vegetables carry the same nutrients, so a child can be well-nourished on either.”

I’m currently reading Ellyn Satter’s book “Child of Mine,” about feeding children, and finding it full of good insight. I like her philosophy, and I’m not trying to call her out by checking the validity of her statement. Many many great nutritionists offer a similar reassurance to parents who worry about their child’s aversion to vegetables. Dietician Jill Castle did in her comment on my veggie post. (I love her blog, by the way – full of good feeding advice – and she’s working on a book!) Any good child feeding expert will tell parents to, above all, not worry too much about whether their child eats vegetables or even fruits for that matter. Don’t worry, because there is only so much you can do (which I outlined in my post), but beyond that, you can’t force a child to eat anything. Having any emotional investment in that idea will almost certainly backfire. So telling parents that fruits are basically as good as vegetables helps them relax at the dinner table, which is a good thing.

But, being the nutrition nerd that I am, I wondered about this purported “nutritional equivalence” of fruits and vegetables and wanted to look at the numbers myself. Continue reading