As we learned last week fruits and vegetables (FV) are great sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that may help protect us from serious chronic illnesses. Therefore, we can understand that eating the appropriate number of fruits and vegetables along with a balanced diet can help us achieve optimum health and prevent diseases. The earlier in life we make eating fruits and vegetables a priority the better the health outcomes and the more we can prevent disease. Additionally, the earlier we learn to eat healthily the easier it is to adopt these habits and continue to do these throughout life. For this reason, we want to help our children to learn healthy habits early on.
So how many FV do we need each day? The answer varies on several different factors1…
Let’s get started. First, select yours and your child’s level of physical activity1:
- Less active: average less than 30 minutes per day
- Moderately active: average 30-60 minutes a day
- Active: average more than 60 minutes per day
Now look at the charts below and find you and your child’s appropriate age range and activity level to know the number of servings of FV that you each need1:
It is also important to note that you should vary your FV. Different colored FV provide different vitamins and minerals. MyPlate divides vegetables into the following five categories: dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables. The following chart gives weekly vegetable recommendations for each of these 5 subgroups individually. It is important to note that these recommendations are for weekly instead of daily amounts. It is not needed to eat vegetables from each of the subgroups daily.
What counts as a cup (or one serving size) of fruit3?
1 cup of fruit, 1 cup of 100% fruit juice or ½ cup of dried fruit can be considered as 1 cup from the Fruit group.
Here is a more detailed infogram (I adapted it from MyPlate) for what counts as a serving size of fruit:
What is 1 cup (or one serving size) of vegetables2?
Generally, 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables, 2 cups of raw leafy greens, or 1 cup of vegetable juice counts as a cup.
Here is a chart (also adapted from MyPlate) with more detailed examples:
If you guys would like to have these infograms for you to save and print as a quick reference when you are setting your goals (as a reminder of what a serving size of FV is) or checking in with me to see how you did on your goals let me know via text and I will email you these handy-dandy infograms.
- Department of Health and Human Sciences, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How many fruits and vegetables do you need? Internet: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/wp-content/uploads/UserFiles/File/pdf/resources/cdc/HowMany_Brochure.pdf (accessed 26 June 2017).
- Choose MyPlate. What foods are in the vegetable group? April 2017. Internet: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables (accessed 26 June 2017).
- Choose MyPlate. What foods are in the Fruit Group? April 2017. Internet: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruit (accessed 5 July 2017).
- HEADER: Produce. Internet: http://petersongarden.org/event/vegetarian-cooking/produce/ (accessed 17 July 2017).
- List of dark green leafy vegetables. April 2015. Internet: http://www.livestrong.com/article/358248-list-of-dark-green-leafy-vegetables/ (accessed 17 July 2017)