What makes up a serving of vegetables and how many servings do you need in a day?
Advertisement

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 10% of Americans eat the recommended daily servings of vegetables. This means many of us are missing out on the nutrients that vegetables deliver, especially potassium and fiber.

How many servings should you be eating? It depends on your calorie needs, age, and gender. Generally, an adult should aim for 2½-4 cups of vegetables a day, according to the USDA's MyPlate. 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 plain vegetables, with no added butter, dressing or other ingredients.

Serving Sizes of Common Vegetables

Here are a few examples of vegetables you're likely to eat on a regular. All serving sizes are per the USDA's MyPlate recommendations.

Salad Greens and Lettuce

One serving of salad greens and lettuce

One serving is 2 cups mesclun greens (about 10 calories), 2 cups raw spinach (about 14 calories) or 1 cup cooked greens (about 40 calories), per the USDA.

Carrots

One serving of carrots

One serving is 1 cup baby carrots, 1 cup sliced or chopped (fresh, cooked, or frozen) or 2 medium carrots, and is about 50 calories, per the USDA.

Green Beans

One serving of green beans

One serving is 1 cup of green beans and is about 44 calories, per the USDA.

Bell Peppers

One serving of bell peppers

One serving of bell peppers is 1 cup chopped, raw or cooked fresh or frozen bell peppers or 1 large bell pepper, and is about 30 calories, per the USDA.

Potatoes (Sweet and White)

One serving of potatoes

One serving is 1 large baked sweet potato (162 calories) or 1 cup of cooked sliced or mashed sweet potato (180 calories). One serving of potato is 1 medium boiled or baked white potato (145 calories) or 1 cup diced or mashed potato (136 calories).

Tomatoes

One serving of tomatoes

One serving is 1 cup chopped or sliced, fresh, canned or cooked tomato (about 43 calories) or 1 large or 2 small fresh whole tomatoes (about 33 calories) or 1 cup grape tomatoes (about 47 calories), per the USDA.

Broccoli

One serving of broccoli

One serving is 1 cup of cooked, fresh or frozen broccoli (about 30 calories).

Mixed Vegetables

One serving of mixed vegetables

One serving is 1 cup of mixed vegetables (118 calories), per the USDA.