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The Recommended Intake

Nutritionists recommend eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, but most people fall far short of this goal. A serving is:

  • One medium-sized whole fruit
  • One cup of raw leafy vegetables
  • Three-quarters of a cup of vegetable or fruit juice (100% juice)
  • Half a cup of cooked, canned, or frozen produce
  • One-quarter of a cup of dried fruit

Eating five fruits or vegetables per day significantly reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, cataracts, osteoporosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and obesity, so it’s worth getting into this habit. Here are some easy ways to increase your intake:

  • Throw some fruit (with or without yogurt or honey) into a blender to make juice or smoothies.
  • Keep some frozen or canned produce on hand for when you can’t buy fresh items (although canned produce loses some nutrients, it’s still better than no produce at all).
  • Add fruit to oatmeal, cereal, French toast, or pancakes
  • Dice leftover vegetables and add them to your omelets.
  • Add more vegetables (lettuce, onion, tomato, etc.) to your sandwiches.
  • When buying prepared foods, choose vegetable-based main courses or sides, such as veggie burritos.
  • If you’re barbecuing, chop a few vegetables into large chunks, stick them on skewers, and grill them along with the meat.
  • Drizzle root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, onions, and garlic with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and pepper, and roast them on a flat cookie sheet for comforting winter food.
  • Buy or make a pizza crust and cover it with tomato sauce and lots of vegetables.
  • Make large batches of vegetable-rich chili or spaghetti sauce and freeze individual portions for later use.
  • Keep quick and easy fruit and vegetable snacks on hand and in sight – for example, baby carrots with dip at the front of the fridge and fruit in a bowl on the table.
  • If you like to bake, replace fats in recipes with applesauce, mashed bananas, mashed pineapple, or pumpkin puree or make produce-based recipes such as carrot cake, blueberry tarts, fruit pies, berry or apple crumbles, and zucchini muffins.

By making fruits and vegetables more convenient, quick to prepare, and portable, you’ll find it easier to increase your daily intake.


Pivonka, E., Dr., & Berry, B., 5 a Day: The Better Health Cookbook, The Philip Lief Group, Inc., 2002.

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