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The 411 on How Many Fruits & Veggies You Need

January 29, 2020

Was one of your 2020 resolutions to change your eating habits? Fruits & veggies play an important part of any healthy diet—but how can you know just how many you need to be eating for optimal health?

It’s pretty interesting, really. Most of us know that fruits and vegetables are good for us. But the reality is that, despite that knowledge, we often don’t get enough in our diets.

So, how much is enough? In today’s blog, we’re breaking it down and talking about why fruits & veggies play such an important role in the first place.

Why Fruits & Veggies Are So Beneficial
If you’re new to the “healthy eating” game, you may wonder why we’ve chosen to focus in on fruits and vegetables out of all the different food groups. Well, it’s for good reason.

Vegetables and fruits contain tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can keep our bodies functioning at their best.

Dr. Babu Rao

“One of the best tips I can give to patients is to fill up on fruits and vegetables,” says Babu Rao, MD, gastroenterologist with West Tennessee Medical Group. “Aim to fill up at least half of your plate at every meal with these foods, which are packed with nutrients and vitamins like fiber to promote healthy digestion and optimal health.”

There are many benefits to eating more fruits & veggies—doing so has been tied with everything from a healthy immune system to a reduced risk of developing chronic health conditions.

But just how many servings should you eat to reap the benefits—and what exactly is a serving size? Let’s take a look.

How Many Fruits & Veggies You Should Eat
In general, the rule is: the more, the better. For the most part, these foods are among those that you can eat large quantities of without facing any adverse health effects, such as weight gain. 

The better news is that if you’re actually eating fruits & veggies, you probably won’t need to eat a ton of them! These foods are not only full of nutrition, they’ll also help you feel fuller for longer after eating them.

But there are some basic recommendations for how many servings you should have each day. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that older children and most adults eat at least four servings of vegetables each day and at least three servings of fruit.

Some less active women and older adults may be OK with just three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit.

But again, that’s just a basic guideline! Some recent research found that the greatest health benefits come from eating a combined total of 10 servings of fruits & veggies a day. Researchers believe that if every person ate that amount, around 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide could be prevented.

That leads us to another question, though—what makes up a serving?

Determining Serving Size for Fruits & Veggies
What constitutes a serving varies depending on the specific fruit or vegetable, as well as its preparation, such as whether it’s juiced, dried, or eaten whole.

The American Heart Association breaks it down for us. One serving equals:

  • One medium apple, pear, orange, or peach
  • Half of a medium avocado
  • One small banana
  • 16 grapes 
  • A half-inch thick slice of watermelon
  • 4 large strawberries
  • Half of a large bell pepper
  • 5 to 8 florets of broccoli or cauliflower
  • One cup of raw leafy veggies or half a cup cooked
  • Half of a medium potato
  • 1 small ear of corn or half of a large ear
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit or fruit juice

So, while eating nine total servings of fruits & veggies a day may seem intimidating, you actually don’t need to eat a ton of food to get that amount in. A serving size is probably smaller than you’d think, and most of us regularly eat portions larger than that.

Eat up! There’s no better time than today to start getting in more servings.

Wondering how you can improve your health? A checkup provides an opportunity to learn where your health currently stands and what you can do to boost it. Need a doctor? FIND ONE HERE.