Health authorities recommend a daily minimum of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day or about 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily plus 2 cups of fruit daily.
- A serving of raw or cooked vegetables or fruit is about the size of a tennis ball, or fist.
- For salad greens or berries, it is about the amount you can hold in your two cupped hands, or a small cereal bowl.
- A serving of vegetable or fruit juice is 4-6 ounces, or about half the size of a can of soda.
Higher intakes of fruits and vegetables have consistently been identified as part of a healthy eating style, which contributes to:
- Positive health outcomes
- Better weight management
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
- Reduced risk of certain types of cancer
Adapted from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, eighth edition.
Trying to consume more vegetables? Try these strategies:
- Aim for 3-5 servings a day of raw or cooked veggies, or vegetable juice.
- Choose a variety of vegetables from all the vegetable subgroups: dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other. Each subgroup provides a different mix of nutrients.
- Go for color. Vegetables with darker color (of the part eaten) tend to offer more nutrients.
- Cut up your vegetables and put them in baggies or clear containers in the fridge. This way they are easily assessable for a quick snack.
- Be creative with your salads. If you love tomatoes, have a tomato salad. Make a green bean salad, broccoli salad, whatever veggie you like salad….
- Seek out variety. Eat vegetables you have never tried and unusual varieties. If you like what you tried, great! If not, pass it over next time.
- Try a variety of preparation methods, such as stir-frying, grilling, and steaming.
- Which veggies did you shun as a child? Try them again. Try them prepared differently. You may learn that you like them now, or prepared in a way you haven’t tried before.
- Make lettuce wraps. Fill lettuce leaves with your favorite fillings, such as rice or chicken.
- Dip lettuce or any of your favorite vegetables in dressing.
- Make a wrap by preparing a salad and wrapping it in a tortilla.
- Load up your sandwiches with plenty of salad greens, cucumbers, green/red peppers, tomatoes and/or radishes.
- Include a serving of vegetables and/or a green salad with every meal.
Trying to consumer more fruits? Try these strategies:
- Aim for 2-4 servings a day.
- Make sure fruit juice is 100% juice. Drink fruit juice wisely, as it is high in natural sugars and can contribute to excess calories.
- Keep fruit out in the open and easily assessable. Decorate your countertop with a colorful bowl of fresh fruit.
- Top your favorite cereal with fresh berries or peaches.
- Stir peaches, strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries into vanilla yogurt.
- If you don’t eat your fruit in time and it is ready to go bad, stick it in the freezer and save for a later date. Frozen fruit is great for making a smoothie.
- Keep fruit handy. Cut it up in the morning and put it in a baggie to carry with you for the day. Another option is to wrap delicate fruit, such as peaches in paper towels and put it in a plastic container to protect it from squishing in your backpack.
- Make a smoothie. It is an easy and delicious way to take in several servings of fruit.
- Go to a salad bar and load up on a fruit salad.
- Eat fruit as a dessert.