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Fruits & Veggies – What Counts?2019-01-23T16:10:04+00:00

Fruits & Veggies – What Counts?

The amount of fruits and vegetables you need on a daily basis should be individualized to your activity level, age and sex. In general, most adults need five cups of fruits and vegetables each day, consisting of two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables (1). As you think about increasing your fruit and vegetable intake, think about getting a wide variety of different types and colors of produce. Different types and different colors each contain a different set of nutrients. Consuming a wide variety will insure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to function optimally.

What are fruits?

Fruit is an edible part of a plant that usually contain seeds. Examples of fruits include:

What counts as 1 cup of fruit?

Eyeball it. Go to your kitchen, pull out your one cup measuring cup. Now imagine what that would be equivalent to in fruit. For a whole fruit, like an apple or an orange, a baseball is about the size of one cup. This also holds true for sliced, chopped or cooked fruit, or even smaller fruit like grapes. Visualize the amount of food it would take to fill a one cup measuring cup or form the size of a baseball. That is the amount that counts towards one cup of your daily intake. One cup of 100% fruit juice also counts towards one cup of your fruit intake for the day.

When it comes to dried fruit, like raisins or plums, one-half cup counts towards one cup of fruit. You can visualize one-half cup of fruit by using a one-half cup measuring cup as a point of reference, half of your baseball or a tennis ball.

For more examples of what counts as a cup, see https://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruit.

What are vegetables?

Botanically speaking, vegetables are the edible parts of a plant excluding the seed bearing “fruit.” Because vegetables in the same color group contain similar nutrient content (orange vegetables are high in vitamin A, for example), the USDA categorizes vegetables into dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, starchy vegetables and other vegetables. Starchy vegetables are singled out to prevent an overconsumption of starchy foods, especially in certain populations, like those with diabetes.

What counts as a cup?

Much like fruit, any whole vegetable that is the size of a baseball, or any sliced, chopped or cooked vegetable that you could visualize fitting into a one cup measuring cup, or being the size of a baseball, counts towards one cup of your daily vegetable intake. An exception lies with leafy greens like a salad, spinach or kale. In this case, two cups of raw leafy greens is considered as one cup of vegetables. For more examples, see: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables.


  1. Centers for Disease Control, How many fruits and vegetables do you need? Accessed October 30th, 2018 <https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/wp-content/uploads/UserFiles/File/pdf/resources/cdc/HowMany_Brochure.pdf>
  2. USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov, Vegetable group food gallery, Accessed October 30th, 2018 <https://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetable-group-food-gallery>