Only one in four Americans eats the recommended daily servings of vegetables and fruits, which means we’re missing out on the nutrients that produce delivers, especially potassium and fiber.
How many servings should you be eating? It depends on your calorie needs.
An adult eating 2,000 calories a day should aim for 2 cups of vegetables. A good rule is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, which is also good news for your waistline, as vegetables are low in calories.
The most brightly colored produce is often the most nutrient-rich, so it’s important to eat a wide variety of colorful vegetables – particularly dark green, red and orange vegetables.
To make sure you’re getting enough, check out these examples of what counts as a serving of vegetables. All calorie counts are for vegetables, with no added butter, dressing or other ingredients:
• Salad greens and lettuce – One serving is 2 cups mesclun greens, 2 cups raw spinach (about 14 calories) or 1 cup cooked greens (about 40 calories).
• Carrots – One serving is 1 cup carrots or 12 baby carrots (about 50 calories).
• Green beans – One serving is 1 cup green beans (about 44 calories).
• Bell peppers – One serving of bell peppers is 1 cup chopped, raw or cooked peppers or two small bell peppers (about 30 calories).
• Potatoes – One serving is one medium baked sweet potato (103 calories) or 1 cup cooked sliced or mashed sweet potato (180 calories). One serving of potato is one medium boiled or baked white potato (144 calories) or 1 cup diced or mashed potato (134 calories).
• Tomatoes – One serving is 1 cup chopped or sliced, raw, canned or cooked tomato (about 32 calories) or two small raw whole tomatoes (about 33 calories) or 20 cherry tomatoes (about 61 calories).
• Broccoli – One serving is 1 cup cooked or raw broccoli or 10 broccoli florets (about 30 calories).
• Mixed vegetables – One serving is 1 cup mixed vegetables (118 calories).