The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2010 that only 33% of adults were eating the daily recommended amount of fruit, and even fewer — 27% — were meeting their veggie quota. And that’s adults; the numbers for teens were worse.
What’s a Daily Recommended Serving?
There’s not a lot that nutrition scientists agree on, but almost everyone seems to think we should eat more vegetables, and that they should make up a greater part of our plates. To this end, they recommend a very basic guideline:
Someone who needs 2,000 calories a day should eat:
•2 cups of fruit
•2 1/2 cups of vegetables
These recommended servings come from widely accepted dietary guidelines that are still, of course, just rough guidelines. Everyone is different, and has different nutritional needs, so there’s no one-size-fits-all plan, and perhaps you eat a lot more veggies than this every day (or a lot less fruit).
While that 2,000 calorie standard is an average that suits a lot of people, of course it doesn’t fit everyone. Fruit and vegetable servings are calibrated off of calorie requirements, which in turn are set by a person’s sex, age, and activity level.
You can calculate your own daily recommended servings of fruit & vegetables here.
A Few Tips on Calculating Fruit & Vegetable Servings
How do servings work? For the most part, a cup means a cup — just measure out a cup of grapes or a cup of chopped carrots, and ta-da, you have your measurement. There are a few exceptions, though:
•When it comes to salad, a cup is not a cup. It takes 2 cups of leafy greens to equal 1 cup of vegetables.
•Juice does count as a fruit. According to the CDC, a cup of fruit juice does count as a serving of fruit, but nutritionists caution that you’re not getting the fiber and other good benefits of eating whole fruit.
•When it comes to dried fruit, cut the amount in half. A half cup of dried fruit equals one cup of fresh fruit.
•One big piece of fruit is roughly a cup. An apple, an orange, a large banana, a nectarine, a grapefruit — one piece of fruit gives you one cup.
Keeping this in mind, here are some looks at a full daily serving of fruit and vegetables:
Berries at breakfast, berries for dessert, and vegetables for lunch, snack, and dinner.
•Fruit: 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup strawberries (about 8 large)
•Vegetables: 1 cup coleslaw, 6 baby carrots with dip, 1 cup sautéed kale
Let’s get snack happy! If you just snack on fruit and vegetables all day, this is the way to do it. Cut up some vegetables and pack them in your lunchbox with some hummus.
•Fruit: 1 cup cantaloupe, 1 cup champagne grapes
•Vegetables: 1 cup sugar snap peas, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 stalk celery
Eat a big salad for lunch or dinner, and round it out with some fruit. You could even put the fruit on the salad.
•Fruit: 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1 apple
•Vegetables: Large salad with about 5 cups salad greens