How Many Servings of Vegetables Do You Really Need?

When people come to see me in the clinic I always inquire about their diet as a part of my assessment. More often than not, I find that most are not eating enough vegetables. The Canada Food Guide’s recommendations for servings of vegetables and fruit per day for adults is the following:

Men Ages 19 – 50:  8 – 10 Servings
Women Ages 19 – 50:  7 – 8 Servings
Men and Women Over Age 51: 7 Servings

I recommend that the majority of these servings be vegetables with just a serving or two of local in season fruit each day. Generally I suggest less fruit (especially raw) in the cold months. The same for vegetables—less raw in the cold months and a balance of cooked and raw the rest of the year. For more information on the topic of eating with the seasons, read my previous article.

Single serving sizes: ½ cup of chopped vegetables or one cup of leafy greens such as kale, spinach or chard, or ½ cup of fruit or a single piece of fruit. For most adults that means 3 ½ – 5 cups of chopped veggies or 2 ½ – 4 cups of chopped veggies and 2 cups of leafy greens along with a single serving of fruit each day.

Plants should be the cornerstone of your diet. They provide an abundance of the majority of vitamins and minerals you require as well as fiber and a host of phytonutrients (natural compounds in the plants that have powerful antioxidant abilities). Choose organic produce if you can. Less chemicals, better for the environment and in many cases more nutrients.