Vegetables are nutritious, usually low in calories, and they should make up a substantial portion of the diet at any age. Vegetables contain fiber, lots of vitamins and minerals, and the colorful pigments contain phytochemicals that may have additional health benefits. Unfortunately, most people don't eat enough of them. Be sure you're getting enough vegetables. Use this guide to know how many cups of vegetables you and your family members need to eat every day. You might also want to check out my article on fruit and vegetable serving sizes
One Cup for Toddlers
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Toddlers age two and three years should eat one cup of vegetables every day. That's one cup spread throughout a whole day, not one cup at each meal; one serving for a toddler may be only two or three tablespoons. It takes about 16 tablespoons to equal one cup.
Cooked vegetables are usually best for toddlers because children at this age don't always chew their food well so raw vegetables may present a choking hazard. Boiled, baked or roasted vegetables are better than fried vegetables, which have extra calories from fat.
One and One-Half Cups to Two Cups for Children
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All children (both boys and girls) from age four to eight years old should eat one and one half cups of vegetables every day. That's one and one half cups of vegetables spread throughout a whole day, not for each meal. One serving for a small child may be only three or four tablespoons.
Girls age nine to thirteen should eat at least two cups of vegetables every day and boys of the same age should eat two and one-half cups every day. Kids who are active and get more than 30 minutes of exercise every day may need even more vegetables.
Children can eat a combination of raw and cooked vegetables. Steamed, baked or roasted vegetables are better than fried vegetables, which have extra calories from fat. This can be a tough age for getting enough servings because kids often dislike the bitter flavor of vegetables .
Two and One-Half to Three Cups for Teenagers
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Teenaged girls from age 14 to 18 should eat two and one half cups of vegetables every day. Teenaged boys should eat three cups of vegetables every day. Teens who are active and get more than 30 minutes of exercise every day may need even more vegetables.
Teens should eat a combination of raw and cooked vegetables. Boiled, baked or roasted vegetables are better than fried vegetables, which have extra calories from fat.
Two and One-Half to Three Cups for Adults
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Most men from the age of 19 to 50 should eat about three cups of vegetables per day. Men over the age of 50 may only need about two and one-half cups. Men who get more than 30 minutes of exercise every day may need more vegetables. Women from the age of 19 to 50 need about two and one-half cups every day, while women over the age of 50 need about two cups. As with men, women who are physically active every day may need more vegetables.
What's a Cup of Vegetables?
Daniela Andreea Spyropoulos
For most vegetables, one cup is equal to the amount that will fill a one-cup measuring cup (like whipped rutabagas
or chopped carrots); however, two cups of raw leafy greens like spinach and lettuce is the equivalent of one cup of vegetable. Or, you can combine one cup raw greens with one-half cup of an additional vegetable. Eight ounces of vegetable juice also counts as a one-cup serving.
But what if you don't have a measuring cup handy? Here are some estimates:
- two medium carrots
- five or six broccoli florets
- one large sweet pepper
- one large sweet potato
- one large ear of corn
- one medium potato
- one large tomato
United States Department of Agriculture. "Inside the Pyramid: How Many Vegetables are Needed Daily or Weekly?" http://www.mypyramid.gov/pyramid/vegetables_amount_table.html