How Many Servings of Fruit and Vegetables Do I Actually Need?Posted: Feb 11 in Healthy Eating Menu by Staff
You may want to lose weight or just want to eat healthier in general, but how do you know if you are getting the nutrients you need daily? A good diet begins with enough fruit and vegetables each day.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, recommends eating 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Therefore, the common “5 a day” rule is the bare minimum and the more you eat, the better.
Why are fruits and vegetables healthy?
Recommendations have changed over the years, but one thing remains constant – that fruit and vegetables prevent disease and prolong life. Experts recommended eating more vegetables than fruits. This is because the sugar content is higher that vegetables in common fruits like apples, oranges, and peaches.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Vitamins and minerals are essential for good health and long life. Also, those who eat diets high in fruit and vegetables tend to have less fat on their bodies, which reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
There are two main types of fiber:
- Soluble Fiber: Easily metabolized by the gut and dissolves in water
- Insoluble Fiber: Does not dissolve in water
Americans generally do not eat enough fiber, but it is good to aim for at least 25 grams for women or 38 grams for men each day.
Fruits and vegetables also contain antioxidants, which prevent cell damage. Antioxidants are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Not only that, but antioxidants are believed to give the immune system a natural boost.
How Much is a Serving of Fruits and Vegetables?
This is a common question, but the answer is complicated. Fruit servings are 80 grams, which is usually about the size of a tennis ball. This is approximately one whole medium size fruit or a quarter of a cup of dried fruit or fruit juice.
Experts measure different vegetables differently. A serving of raw leafy veggies is a cup, while a half cup of other vegetables is considered a serving.
Nobody expects you to measure your fruit and vegetables, which is why the MyPlate nutrition guide is so useful. According to MyPlate, you should eat a little more vegetables than fruits, and both combined should be half of your plate.
The serving size for common fruits and vegetables are:
- 1 banana
- 1 cup of grapes
- 1 pear
- 1 apple
- ½ cup applesauce
- 1 orange
- 1 cup of berries
- 10 broccoli florets
- 12 baby carrots
- ½ cup corn
- 1 cup raw leafy greens
- ½ cup cooked leafy greens
How to Eat Enough Fruits and Vegetables
The best thing to do is to eat fruits and vegetables whenever you can. A good tip is to pick out your favorites and have them ready to eat so that it is easy to grab them when you need a snack. You can also add them into smoothies, pasta, and many other dishes.
Salads are a great way to get multiple servings easily in one meal. You don’t have to eat salad every day (unless you want to!), but it would be great to find a way to eat salad a couple times a week.
Using fruits as a dessert can add fruit to your diet while reducing the amount of calories and sugar you eat. If you have a sweet tooth you can even put a little whipped cream on top!
Eating more fruits and vegetables is a great way to help prevent disease and obesity, yet most Americans do not get enough. If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, eating more fruits and veggies is a simple way to get started!