How to Get More Fruits and Vegetables Into Your Diet

fruits and vegetables including strawberries, pineapple, spinach, and tomato

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Science suggests that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with having a healthier heart, a lower risk of cancer, better brain function, and longer life. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), you need at least two cups of fruit every day and about two and one-half cups of vegetables every day. Or if it's easier to track, about five to nine servings per day.

How Big Is a Serving?

Generally, one serving of fruit or vegetable is equal to about one-half cup (sliced or chopped). But greens like spinach and lettuce have a serving size equal to one full cup. A single piece of fruit, such as an apple or an orange also counts as one serving.

When you read the labels on packaged fruits and vegetables, you might see that a serving is three-fourths of a cup instead of a half cup. One serving of juice is four ounces. Bear in mind that a serving sizes are guidelines. Check in with yourself to determine what is enough for your body.

How to Increase Your Fruit and Vegetable Intake

Make them more convenient at home. Apples, pears, bananas, oranges, and cherry tomatoes don't need refrigeration so you can keep them in plain view on your countertop or table. When snack time rolls around it will be easy to grab a piece of fruit or a handful of cherry tomatoes. 

 Try something new. Rutabagas can be cooked and mashed alone or mixed with potatoes. Serve pluots as a sweet treat, or snack on pomegranate arils. Try a few dishes from raw food diets.

Stock up on frozen vegetables. They're quick and easy to prepare in the microwave or on the stovetop. You can choose single vegetables such as peas, carrots, green beans, or cauliflower, or you can try seasoned blends of vegetables.

Pre-cut and pre-washed salads-in-a-bag make mealtime easy. Just don't assume that the pre-washed salad mixes are immaculate. Give them a good rinse before preparing your meal.

Take fruits and vegetables to work. Dehydrated fruits such as raisins, dates, and dried cranberries keep nicely in plastic containers. Tuck a bag of raisins in your purse for an easy snack. Single-serving packs of applesauce or fruit cups that don't need refrigeration can also be kept at your desk.

Serve fruits and vegetables as after school snacks. Offer a variety of snacks including fruits and vegetables in addition to more traditional snacks like ice cream and potato chips. Ideas include:

  • Freshly cut vegetables and dip
  • A mix of your favorite 100% fruit juices with club soda
  • A parfait made with yogurt, berries, and nuts or granola
  • A small bowl of whole grain cereal with fresh fruit slices or raisins and low-fat milk
  • Frozen seedless grapes

Sandwiches, Salads and On the Side

Eating a salad as a meal can give you several servings of fruits and vegetables. Start with some lettuce and add sliced tomatoes, apples, pears, berries, celery, cucumbers, sprouts, raw green beans, broccoli or cauliflower. With so many combinations, you can eat a different salad every day.

When you make a sandwich, be sure to add lettuce and a couple of thick tomato slices. Take the rest of the tomato, slice it up and serve it on the side. Add extra vegetables to your soup and stew recipes, or even to canned soups.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Jiang X, Huang J, Song D, Deng R, Wei J, Zhang Z. Increased consumption of fruit and vegetables is related to a reduced risk of cognitive impairment and dementia: meta-analysisFront Aging Neurosci. 2017;9:18. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2017.00018

  2. Aune D, Giovannucci E, Boffetta P, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality-a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studiesInt J Epidemiol. 2017;46(3):1029-1056. doi:10.1093/ije/dyw319

  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Ninth Edition. December 2020.

Additional Reading

By Shereen Lehman, MS
Shereen Lehman, MS, is a former writer for Verywell Fit and Reuters Health. She's a healthcare journalist who writes about healthy eating and offers evidence-based advice for regular people.