I was opening a bag of frozen organic broccoli last night when I noticed that the serving size listed on the bag was four florets… and that the two-pound bag supposedly contained twelve servings. These are large florets, but four seem (and look) like an incredibly small serving size… although it fits in with the new dietary guidelines recently released by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. Their most recent recommendation is nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day… which they say translates to approximately 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables for someone consuming approximately 2,000 calories a day. These amounts go up or down according to the person’s age, sex, and activity level.

So what is a serving?

  • 1/2 cup of raw or cooked vegetables
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable juice
  • 1 cup of raw, leafy greens
  • 4 or 5 broccoli florets
  • 6 baby carrots
  • a small bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup of raw or cooked fruit
  • a small banana
  • an orange
  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • a melon wedge
  • 16 grapes
  • 4 ounces of applesauce
  • a large plum
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • an apple
  • 4 large strawberries

To further confuse the issue, there are also suggested visual serving guidelines… a serving of whole fruit should be the size of a tennis ball… cut fruit should be the size of 7 cotton balls… vegetable servings should be the size of a light bulb or a computer mouse. And of course the other visual recommendation is that half your plate should be fruit and vegetables.

Recommended Daily Servings of Vegetables and Fruits
2-3 years old 1 cup vegetables, 1 cup fruit
4-8 years old 1 1/2 cups vegetables, 1 to 1 1/2 cups fruit
Girls, 9-13 years old 2 cups vegetables, 1 1/2 cups fruit
Girls, 14-18 years old 2 1/2 cups vegetables, 1 1/2 cups fruit
Boys, 9-13 years old 2 1/2 cups vegetables, 1 1/2 cups fruit
Boys, 14-18 years old 3 cups vegetables, 2 cups fruit
Women, 19-30 years old 2 1/2 cups vegetables, 2 cups fruit
Women, 31-50 years old 2 1/2 cups vegetables, 1 1/2 cups fruit
Women, 51+ years old 2 cups vegetables, 1 1/2 cups fruit
Men, 19-30 years old 3 cups vegetables, 2 cups fruit
Men, 31-50 years old 3 cups vegetables, 2 cups fruit
Men, 51+ years old 2 1/2 cups vegetables, 2 cups fruit

I was surprised to see that we’re actually eating enough fruit and vegetables to meet these guidelines… which is probably why our grocery bill has increased so substantially over the past year! It helps that we all like vegetables… a lot… and fruit too.

How about your family?


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