MU Extension MU Extension       University of Missouri    ●    Columbia    ●    Kansas City       Missouri S&T     ●    St. Louis - Food and Fitness


Feature Articles: Eating Well, Dietary Guidelines for Americans


fruits and vegetables on display at marketMake half your plate fruits and vegetables

Greta Hopke, RD, Candance Gabel, MS, RD, LD, Associate State Nutrition Specialist, & Ellen Schuster, MS, RD, Associate State Nutrition Specialist, University of Missouri Extension; Revised and updated by Ellen Schuster


One of the recommendations from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is to make half your plate fruits and vegetables for increased health and reduced risk of chronic disease. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps decrease the risk of diseases such as stroke, other cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.


The Dietary Guidelines recommend 4½ cups (9 servings) of fruits and vegetables for a 2,000-calorie diet. Below are recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables for different calorie levels.


Fruits and vegetables (combined):


  • 1,600 calorie diet = 3½ cups
  • 1,800 calorie diet = 4 cups
  • 2,000 calorie diet = 4½ cups
  • 2,200 & 2,400 calorie diets = 5 cups
  • 2,600 calorie diet = 5½ cups


  Calorie level 1,600 calories 1,800 calories 2,000 calories 2,200 or 2,400
2,600 calories
  Fruits 1½ cups/day 1½ cups/day 2 cups/day 2 cups/day 2 cups/day
  Vegetables 2 cups/day 2½ cups/day 2½ cups/day 3 cups cups/day 3½ cups/day
   Dark green 1½ cups/wk 1½ cups/wk 1½ cups/wk 2 cups/wk 2½ cups/wk
   Red and orange 4 cups/wk 5½ cups/wk 5½ cups/wk 6 cups/wk 7 cups/wk
   Beans and peas
1 cup/wk 1½ cups/wk 1½ cups/wk 2 cups/wk 2½ cups/wk
   Starchy 4 cups/wk 5 cups/wk 5 cups/wk 6 cups/wk 7 cups/wk
   Other vegetables 3½ cups/wk 4 cups/wk 4 cups/wk 5 cups/wk 5½ cups/wk


From Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, January 2010, p. 79.


Meeting this goal may be a challenge initially, but as you incorporate fruits and vegetables into your daily diet, you will soon establish a new, more healthy dietary pattern. Here are some ideas to get you started:


  • Fruits and vegetables make great snacks and side dishes for light meals. They can replace less-nutritious foods, such as chips and sweets.
  • Slip extra fruits and vegetables into meals in soups, salads, pasta sauces and meatloaf. If you encounter resistance from your family, you can shred certain vegetables before adding them to other foods.
  • Mash beans and add them to soups or chili to add nutrients and act as a thickening agent.
  • Make sandwiches special by adding fruit or vegetable slices.
  • Top cereal or pancakes with fresh fruit or applesauce.
  • Make a fruit smoothie by blending fruit with milk or yogurt.
  • Serve fresh fruit for dessert.
  • Add dried fruits, such as cranberries or raisins, to breads and muffins.


University of Missouri logo links to

Site Administrator:
Copyright  ADA  Equal Opportunity

MissouriFamilies is produced by the College of Human Environmental Sciences,
Extension Division, University of Missouri

Last update: Friday, June 10, 2011