Fruits & Vegetables

Why do I need to include fruits and vegetables in my diet?

We know that the many nutrients in fruit and vegetables help keep us well and may prevent illness and disease. We may not know that some fruits and vegetables have specific and important nutrients. The color of a fruit or vegetable usually indicates which type of nutrients it contains.

For example,

Red fruits and vegetables Have nutrients that may help protect against cardiovascular disease and has been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables Support immune function and promote eye health and cell growth.
Green fruits and vegetables Are rich in nutrients that support digestion, blood and bone health, and enhance immune function.
Blue and purple fruits and vegetables Are rich in phytonutrients that may protect against cancer and fight inflammation.
White and brown fruits and vegetables Are high in phytonutrients that support bone health, balance hormones and may protect against certain cancers.

Eating a diversity of colorful foods can help you get the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive, but you don’t have to eat the rainbow at every meal. Rather, aim for a balance of colors throughout the day.

How many fruits and vegetables should I eat?

For optimal health benefits, adults should aim to eat 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  The good news is that all produce counts, which means canned, fresh and frozen varieties can help you reach your goal!

A serving of fruits and/or vegetables is:

  • ½ cup fresh, frozen or canned
  • 1 cup of raw leafy greens like spinach or lettuce
  • ¼ cup dried fruit
  • ½ cup 100% vegetable juice
  • ¼ cup 100% fruit juice

Here are some examples of what half a cup of fresh, frozen or canned fruits or vegetables looks like:

  • 16 grapes
  • 4 large strawberries
  • 1 medium apple, pear, orange or peach (about the size of your fist)
  • 1 small banana
  • 5 to 8 broccoli or cauliflower florets
  • 6 baby carrots or 1 whole medium carrot
  • ½ a medium potato
  • 1 small ear of corn

How can I add more fruits and vegetables to my diet?

If you’d like to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, try:

  • Adding fruits and vegetables to whatever you are already eating. If you make pasta, try adding some vegetables like frozen broccoli and bell peppers. Try flavoring plain yogurt with fruit like bananas or berries. If you get a burrito, load it with lettuce, salsa and any other vegetables.
  • Prepping your fresh fruit and vegetables at the beginning of the week by washing and cutting them makes sure they are ready when you need them.
  • Buying precut veggies, frozen veggies or bags of salad may increase the likelihood that you’ll eat them.
  • Keeping fruits and vegetables in your kitchen, where you can see them. You are more likely to consume them.
  • Making large batches of soup with frozen and canned vegetables and beans.
  • Mixing fruits and vegetables into foods. For example, add shredded carrots or zucchini to oatmeal or pancakes, or add pureed pumpkin or butternut squash into sauces.
  • Including a fruit and/or vegetable with every meal. For example, If you are ordering a sandwich at the CoHo, you can ask for extra veggies on the sandwich and choose an apple or orange as your side.
  • Making extras when you have time to cook, so you have leftovers ready for you.
  • Familiarizing yourself with campus and community resources. For information about food access resources, visit Aggie Compass or the Food Access Map.
  • Learning new recipes from the UC Davis Teaching Kitchen Pinterest.