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How to get your daily servings of vegetables and fruit: A visual guide

We get it, eating enough fruits and veggies every day is tough. This photo guide makes it easier.

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Find out what a serving of fruits or vegetables looks like.

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Most people don't eat enough fruits and vegetables each day to best support their health. Even though eating fruits and vegetables sounds simple, it's not always easy, especially for those affected by high food prices or lack of access to healthy food. 

Even if you have access to fruits and veggies, you may not know how much of each you should eat each day -- or what a serving of fruit or vegetables even looks like. If you're trying to increase your fruit and veggie consumption, use this photo guide to help make sense of servings. 

How many servings of fruit and vegetables should you eat every day?

Expert opinions vary, but in general, the answer is "more." Seriously -- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nine in 10 Americans don't eat enough fruits and vegetables, so more than you eat now is a good start. 

But if you want concrete recommendations, look to the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The newest version stipulates that all adults on a 2,000-calorie diet should consume one to two cups of fruit per day and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day. Those numbers shift a little depending on your exact calorie intake. 

But that still doesn't tell you how many servings of fruit and vegetables you should eat each day. Waking up each morning and thinking you need to consume 4.5 cups of produce sounds a bit overwhelming. 

healthy meal on a pastel painted picnic table
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You may have heard that you should eat five, seven or even 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but those numbers also mean nothing if you don't know what a serving looks like. 

What's a person to do? 

To make it feel more manageable, I recommend breaking down the US Dietary Guidelines recommendation into half-cup increments. So, you need four half-cup servings of fruit to reach the two-cup recommendation, and five half-cup servings of vegetables to reach the 2.5-cup recommendation. 

The American Heart Association supports this method, saying one serving of vegetables can look like a half cup of fresh or frozen vegetables, and that one serving of fruit looks like a half cup of fresh or frozen fruit. (There are some caveats, such as upping the amount to one cup for leafy greens and cooked veggies.)

However, nine total servings of fruits and veggies may feel out of reach. And you may not even need that many, anyway, according to recent research. Eating more than five servings per day does not seem to provide additional health benefits. To be clear, we aren't saying don't aim for nine servings if that feels attainable to you. But don't feel discouraged if that's not in the cards for you yet, because five servings per day can definitely improve your health. 

What a daily serving of fruit and vegetables looks like

Using the AHA guidelines on what a serving looks like, plus the long-standing recommendation to eat five total servings each day, here are nine examples of what your daily intake of fruits and vegetables could look like. 

5 servings of vegetables: 4 cups of lettuce, a half cup of mushrooms, and a sweet pepper for good measure.

Five servings of vegetables: four cups of lettuce, a half cup of mushrooms and a sweet pepper for good measure.

Amanda Capritto/CNET
Five servings of produce: one medium banana, one tomato, one orange, a half cup of broccoli and a half cup of carrots.

Five servings of produce: one medium banana, one tomato, one orange, a half cup of broccoli and a half cup of carrots. 

Amanda Capritto/CNET
Five servings of produce: one cup of lettuce, one medium banana, one orange, a half cup of cherry tomatoes, and a half cup of blueberries

Five servings of produce: one cup of lettuce, one medium banana, one orange, a half cup of cherry tomatoes and a half cup of blueberries.

Amanda Capritto/CNET
Five servings of produce: half cup of blueberries, half a mango, one bell pepper, one avocado, half cup of carrots

Five servings of produce: a half cup of blueberries, half a mango, one bell pepper, one avocado and a half cup of carrots.

Amanda Capritto/CNET
5 servings of produce: half cup broccoli, half cup blueberries, half a mango, half cup sweet pepper, half cup mushrooms

Five servings of produce: a half cup of broccoli, a half cup of blueberries, half a mango, a half cup of sweet pepper and a half cup of mushrooms.

Amanda Capritto/CNET
Five servings of vegetables: 3 cups of lettuce, half cup of broccoli, half cup of peppers

Five servings of vegetables: three cups of lettuce, a half cup of broccoli and a half cup of peppers.

Amanda Capritto/CNET
Five servings of fruit: half cup blueberries, half a mango, one apple, one cup cantaloupe

Five servings of fruit: a half cup of blueberries, half a mango, one apple and one cup of cantaloupe.

Amanda Capritto/CNET
5 servings of fruit: one cup cantaloupe, one cup pineapple, one apple

Five servings of fruit: one cup of cantaloupe, one cup of pineapple and one apple.

Amanda Capritto/CNET
5 servings of produce: half cup mushrooms, half cup cherry tomatoes, one cup pineapple, one avocado

Five servings of produce: a half cup of mushrooms, a half cup of cherry tomatoes, one cup of pineapple and one avocado.

Amanda Capritto/CNET

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.