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What Is a Serving of Fruit or a Vegetable?

The United States Department of Agriculture sets a size for or vegetables to be equal to about one-half cup. Greens like spinach and lettuce have a serving size equal to one full cup. One serving of sliced is equal to one-half cup; however a single piece of , such as an apple or an orange counts as one serving. How did the USDA decide that one-half cup is a serving size? The decision was based on the that people typically eat, ease of use and nutritional content of fruits and vegetables.

Many experts suggest we need from five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. That is a total. Older or inactive women and smaller children need at least three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit. Growing kids, teen girls, most men and active women would eat at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit everyday. Teen boys and active men should eat at least five servings of vegetables and four servings of fruit. Unfortunately many people fail to eat even five servings each day.

Here are some typical for fruits and vegetables:


  • one banana
  • six strawberries
  • two plums
  • fifteen grapes
  • one apple
  • one peach
  • one-half cup of orange or other fruit juice


  • five broccoli florets
  • ten baby carrots
  • one roma tomato
  • 3/4 cup tomato juice
  • half of a baked sweet potato
  • one ear of corn
  • four slices of an onion

You may notice that serving sizes on the Nutrition Facts Label of packaged fruits and vegetables are not always the same size as the one-half cup serving size that the USDA has set for the food pyramid. For example, some frozen blends may list the serving size as 3/4 cup, which would meet one and one half of your need for the day.

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