Vegucation: Is an apple a day really enough?

posted Sep 10, 2013, 8:47 PM by Merrin McGregor   [ updated Sep 11, 2013, 8:35 AM ]

School is back! Time to do some learning. 

Let’s start with some basic math on fruit and veggie consumption: How much is enough?

Sounds like a simple question, but really, do you know how much fruit and vegetables you are consuming every day and how much you should be getting? (Hint: Most people are consuming less than half of what's recommended.) Many suggest filling half of your plate with fruits and veggies at every meal (fortunately, they don’t say which half!), which is certainly good advice, but there are some great resources to provide us with specific guidelines: the MyPlate program in the US, and Canada’s Food Guide if you’re north of the border.

USDA MyPlate

The MyPlate guidelines count your fruit and veggie consumption by the ‘cup.’ So, a 1 cup measure worth of most fruits or vegetables—about the size of your fist—counts as 1 cup toward your daily intake. Generally, 1 small apple, or 1 medium pear, tomato or potato, is about 1 cup. There are some exceptions: for example, dried fruit counts as double, and leafy greens count as half the quantity consumed. 

*Here is a quick overview of the MyPlate daily recommendations to help you keep count:




Children (2-8 yrs)

1 to 1½ cups

1 to 1½ cups

2 to 3 cups

Girls (9-18 yrs)

2 to 2½ cups

1½ cups

3½ to 4 cups

Boys (9-18 yrs)

2½ to 3 cups

1½ to 2 cups

3½ to 5 cups

Women (19+ yrs)

2 to 2½ cups

1½ to 2 cups

3½ to 4½ cups

Men (19+ yrs)

2½ to 3 cups

2 cups

4½ to 5 cups

For more info, visit

Canada’s Food Guide

This program has a lot in common with MyPlate, and generally the guidelines are very similar, but Canada’s Food Guide takes a slightly different approach. Instead of measuring by the cup, it counts ‘servings.’ (1 ‘cup’ typically equals 2 ‘servings’.) Once you get the hang of servings, they’re easy to keep tabs on.

*Here is a basic overview of the Canada’s Food Guide recommendations:

Total Fruit & Vegetables

Children (2-13 yrs)

4 to 6 servings

Girls (14-18 yrs)

7 servings

Boys (14-18 yrs)

8 servings

Women (19+ yrs)

7 to 8 servings

Men (19+ yrs)

7 to 10 servings

For more info, visit

How does Vegetables Accidentally count fruits and vegetables?

The cookbook Vegetables Accidentally follows the MyPlate system of cups, because that style of measurement aligns easily with baking and cooking measures. Check the cup counts at the top of each recipe in Vegetables Accidentally to see how much you’re getting. Cooking ‘accidentally’ will help your entire family meet the daily recommendations without a second thought. With well over 100 recipes, from snacks and starters to main courses and desserts, Vegetables Accidentally has about 650 cups of fruit and veggies tucked inside its plotting pages!

So are you getting enough?

There are so many great reasons to increase your fruit and veggie consumption to recommended levels: A recent study concluded that eating fruits and vegetables could add years to your life, and according to the CDC, eating more fruits and vegetables can help prevent 200,000 deaths per year, just to name a couple. And you have your own reasons too.

It’s the season for learning, so I hope you’re doing the math!

*These amounts are approximate recommendations, and may vary depending on age, sex, and level of physical activity.

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