How to Get Your Vegetable Fill Sans Broccoli Slideshow

What counts as a fruit or vegetable?

First of all, 1 cup of vegetables doesn’t have to be a heap of raw broccoli. Fruits and vegetables can be in the form of 100 percent juice; raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried; and whole, chopped up, or puréed. Yes, guacamole counts as a vegetable (score!).

How much is 1 and 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetables?

To give you an idea of 1 cup of fruit, the CDC has provided these examples:

  • 1 small apple
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 medium grapefruit
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 medium pear
  • 1 small wedge watermelon
  • 2 large or 3 medium plums
  • 8 large strawberries

 To get my last ½ cup of fruit, I could (for example) eat:

  • 1 snack container of applesauce
  • 16 grapes
  • 1 medium cantaloupe wedge
  • ½ medium grapefruit
  • 4 large strawberries
  • 1 large plum
  • 1 small box (1/4 cup) of raisins
  • 1 small banana

 

To get 2 cups of vegetables, I could eat two of these options:

  • 1 large bell pepper
  • 1 medium potato
  • 2 large stalks of celery
  • 1 cup of cooked greens or 2 cups of raw greens (spinach, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens)
  • 12 baby carrots (or 2 medium carrots)
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 large ear of corn

And I can get that last ½ cup of vegetables from a snack of five broccoli florets or six carrots.

How can I apply this to meals?

It’s really easier than you think — and you might already be getting close to the recommended amount. For example, I have a 13.5-fluid-ounce container of orange juice every morning for breakfast. That converts to about 1.7 cups, so I’m already exceeding my daily fruit intake. However, it’s important to note that the Dietary Guidelines of 2010 state that the majority of an individual’s daily fruit intake should come from whole fruit, since 100 percent fruit juice lacks dietary fiber.

I usually have at least two vegetables with dinner — say, 1 cup of cooked spinach for greens and 1 large sweet potato for a starch — so I knock out four-fifths of my daily vegetable intake in one meal. A snack of one celery stalk with peanut butter in the afternoon would mean I’m consuming my 2.5 cups of vegetables during the day.

A salad for lunch with 1 cup of lettuce and ½ cup of other veggies can help you meet your goal, and try to choose a fresh and nutritious snack instead of a Snickers out of the vending machine during the week. One of my favorites: A tomato, chopped up and salted — preferably with Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt. Sounds too simple to be so good, but I promise it’s delicious.

For illustrations of these servings and more info on how to apply them to your meals, click here.

Why Bother?

Americans fail miserably at getting their fruits and vegetables — we only consume an average of three servings a day, or about 1.5 cups.

Meanwhile, science has shown that these healthy foods reduce our risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Additionally, they provide the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to function — not to mention they’re low-calorie and low-fat, so they fix your hunger problem without adding to your waistline.

And the more you eat, the better. A 2011 study indicated that each additional portion of fruits and vegetables was linked to a 4 percent lower risk of death, with one serving defined as 80 grams, the equivalent of a small banana, medium apple, or small carrot.

Check out our recipes for healthy ways to incorporate your daily fruits and vegetables into your diet.