5 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables a Day

January 14th, 2014 by Live Well Omaha Kids

Written by Natalie Sehi, MS, RD, LMNT with support from the Lincoln Lancaster Health Department. 

5-4-3-2-1 Go!® is a simple message that was developed to help youth remember what they need to do to be healthy and fit. Each number stands for an action step that children (and adults) can take to be healthy and prevent childhood obesity. Here is what the message stands for:

5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
4 servings of water a day
3 servings of low-fat dairy a day
2 hours or less of screen time a day
1 hour or more of physical activity a day

I would like to spend a little time focusing on the first guideline, 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. It is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables because they contain different nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, and most are naturally low in calories, fat and sodium. Eating fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet can reduce the risk of some diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

According to MyPlate, the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables the typical adult should aim to eat, are 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables each day. So, you are probably thinking that 4½ cups is more than five servings. Five servings is actually referring to five 1/2 cup servings, or 2.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. The 5-4-3-2-1 Go!® message was originally developed for youth, but the simple message still applies to adults as many adults do not get five ½ cup servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

You may be thinking five servings “is a lot” or maybe “I already do that”. For those of you who are thinking “five servings is a lot”, you are not alone. The 2013 State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables reports that on average, Nebraska adults and adolescents consume fruit once per day. Consumption of vegetables is slightly higher with adults and adolescents consuming vegetables an average of 1.5 times per day and 1.3 times per day, respectively. According to American’s Health Rankings, the number of vegetables consumed by Nebraskans on an average day was only .79, which is right in line with the national average.

As you think about healthy changes going into the new year, consider adding more fruits and vegetables to your day. The average cost of five servings of fruits and vegetables is $1.14 per day. Consider buying fruits and vegetables that are in season and compare grocery store ads to the get the most for your food dollar.

Try one or more of the following to add more fruits and vegetables to your day:

  • Keep canned, frozen, and dried fruits and vegetables on hand for a quick addition to a recipe/meal.
  • Keep a bowl for fresh fruit on the table.
  • Have your family pick out fruits and vegetables at the store. They are more likely to eat a fruit or vegetable they help pick out and/or prepare.
  • Be a good example by eating fruits and vegetables yourself.
  • Add fruit to your breakfast cereal.
  • Add lettuce, tomato, green pepper, or onion to your sandwiches or pizza.
  • Eat a soup or salad that contains vegetables.
  • Enjoy a smoothie with fruits and/or vegetables at a meal or as a snack.

Good luck as you strive to eat 5 (or more) servings of fruits and vegetables each day!


This message was created by the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC). 5-4-3-2-1 Go!® is a registered trademark and Copyright © 2004 Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. All rights reserved. www.clocc.net



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