Fruit and Vegetable Serving Sizes: What You Need to Know

Fruit and Vegetable Serving Sizes: What You Need to Know

Whenever my patients ask me whether or not they should buy a scale, my answer is immediately, No! Spend money on good food instead of gadgets and gizmos!

It's always been my habit to use the tools I was born with to make life easier, and the same holds true for eating. Measuring out serving sizes is a lot easier than it sounds; all you have to do is use your eyes and hands. It's so easy, you'll know exactly how many fruits and vegetables you should be eating by the end of this article.

Let’s get busy!

Vegetable Intake

In the course of a day, we should always aim to eat more vegetables. A serving of vegetables according to the American Heart and American Diabetes Association is:

  • 1/2 cup of cooked
  • 1 cup raw
  • ½ cup juice

Typically, a serving of vegetables has 5 grams of carbohydrate and 25 calories. Unless you are on a potassium or other nutrient restriction, or if you have any other serious health condition, it is not necessary to be strict in using these measurements for vegetables. In fact, I tell most of my patients eat 6 to 10 cups of vegetables a day!

To make it as simple as possible, round this number down to 9 and try getting 3 cups of vegetables in the morning, 3 cups in the afternoon and 3 cups in the evening.

Don't know how to get that many vegetables in at breakfast? You can make a NutriBlast and reach this number in no time. You can also sauté vegetables in an egg-white omelet, adding anti-inflammatories like turmeric. Made a side of steel-cut oats and add blood sugar-maintaining cinnamon and a dab of low-glycemic berries for an added fruit nutrient boost. Make these the night before and microwave in the morning for a quick and easy breakfast as you head out the door.

Fruit Intake

Now, fruits are where many individuals overdo their intake. On average, 2 to 3 fruits a day is sufficient. Compared to vegetables, a serving of fruit typically has 15 grams of carbohydrate and 60 calories.

A serving of fruit can vary more than a serving of vegetables. However, I encourage you to use your best judgement and think with your brain, not your hungry stomach!

A serving of fruit can include:

  • 1 tennis-ball sized fruit
  • A 6" banana
  • 1 cup of 1” cubed fruit
  • ½ cup of juice or canned fruit
  • ¼ cup of dried fruit

If you have 3 fruits a day, think of 1 in the morning, 1 in the afternoon, 1 in the evening.

Also, if you love your fruit, but are not a big fan of your vegetables and proteins, this is an optimal way to help your cause. Use your fruit in creative ways to help you get in the the appropriate amounts of vegetables and proteins. Add diced, pureed, cooked, fresh, or frozen fruits to other foods to enhance their appeal.

Apply these tips daily!

Need some help? Here's an excellent big snack or light meal idea:

Fix a plate with pieces of cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, tomato, radish, celery, pepper and other vegetables along with a couple of boiled eggs, cubed cheese and hummus or cashew cream dip, enhanced by a few pieces of apple, orange and/or banana for that added sweetness. This is low prep, requires no cooking and can help you eat your fruits and veggies daily.

Remember, It's all about balance and getting your vegetables in. Time and time again it's been proven that getting in the right amount of fresh, whole foods will fill you up, lower your risk for chronic disease and keep you from consuming all those bad foods you shouldn't eat in excess.

Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator

I just received my Nutri System. I am allergic all fresh fruit except Bananas, Apples, Grapes and Oranges. What can I do to get more fresh fruits in my diet?
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