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How many servings of fruits and vegetables should I eat a day?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
The recommendation is 5 a day, but often it is not reached. And beyond the quantity, a variety of fruits and vegetables, specially green leafy vegetables, will lead to greater health benefits. A recently launched website will help you choose wisely: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/
Are you eating your fruits and veggies? In an informal poll, 42% of respondents answered that question with a resounding no, reporting only consuming 0-2 servings a day. A close second (40%) said they consume 3-5 servings, which is still lower than the American Heart Association’s suggested amount, which calls for eight servings. The Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommend anywhere from five to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day depending on age, gender, physical activity and overall health.
Grant Cooper, MD
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) both recommend eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. When you consider that the average American only consumes three servings of fruits and vegetables a day (not counting potatoes, which are considered primarily a starch), five would be a good initial goal. Studies at Harvard University showed that each additional serving of fruits and vegetables reduced the risk of heart disease by 4 percent. The largest study to date, part of the Harvard-based Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals' Follow-up Study, included over 110,000 people whose dietary and health habits were followed for 14 years. They found that people who consumed eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke than were those who consumed 1.5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. As a general rule, the more fruit and vegetables you eat the better. I recommend 7 -- 12 servings each day. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA recommend 9 servings of fruit and vegetables per day for men, and 7 for women.
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To make sure you’re eating enough fruits and vegetables, aim for the following:
  • Eat 3 to 5 servings (about 1½ to 2 cups) of fruit each day
  • Eat 3 to 5 servings (about 2 to 3 cups) of vegetables each day
Samantha Heller, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Vegetables are low in calories but high in taste and fiber, so you can eat lots of them. In the DASH Diet, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends eating 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. One serving of vegetables is ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw. Fruit has many more calories than vegetables, so while you can eat lots of vegetables, it is best to stick to two to three servings of fruit a day. One serving of fruit is one apple, one cup of fruit salad or berries, one orange and so on.

Fruits and vegetables are jam packed with compounds that promote health and healing, fight disease, help manage weight and support a healthy brain. There is a huge variety from which to choose, and they are very versatile. There are no bad vegetables or fruits, so knock your socks off.
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To make sure you're eating enough fruits and vegetables, aim for the following:
  • Eat three to five servings (about 1-1/2 to 2 cups total) of fruit each day
  • Eat three to five servings (about 2 to 3 cups total) of vegetables each day
Sample servings (portions) of fruits:
  • 1 medium piece of fruit (orange, apple, kiwi, plum, peach, pear or nectarine)
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup melon or berries
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened juice
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
Sample servings (portions) of vegetables:
  • 1 cup raw vegetables
  • 1 cup leafy green vegetables
  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
  • 1/2 cup vegetable juice
Henry S. Lodge, MD
Internal Medicine
The official recommendation is to eat nine servings a day of fruits and vegetables. Yes, it’s a huge amount of leafy stuff, but work at it. Your colon may even start acting normally again!
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.