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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Comments

Mrs. Cole

AWESOME post! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the way you have put everything together so I can find the information I am looking for at a glance. This and everything on your site is topnotch. My blessings to you and your family and my very sincerest thanks for this wonderful site.

Aralyn (VT)

My family isn’t doing so great. I buy mostly frozen vegetables (the 8 or 16oz bags) and we usually have only 1 veggie each meal. The kids eat bananas and orange juice sometimes. Obviously I’ve got some changes to make but the main reason I don’t buy more fruits and vegetables is the expense. I’m struggling with the cost of food right now. We’ve cut way down on meat and I try to get in the whole grains but everything has become so expensive. I really don’t know what I’m going to do if the prices keep rising.

A Worried Mom

What do people do to afford all those servings of fruits and vegetables, grains and proteins that the guidelines recommend? I also wonder how people find variety like is recommended. None of my kids are fussy eaters but we have a limited budget and I can’t afford the expensive stuff. We don’t eat processed food and I do cook from scratch all the time but I don’t see any way I could feed me and my husband and 5 kids all the servings of vegetables and fruits that they are supposed to eat. Not to mention meat or grains or any of the other stuff that is so expensive now. It’s discouraging and I heard food prices are going to increase.

Jarod

Thanks for the article and chart. This is something we need to address and this post will be an enormous help. I really enjoy your blog.