Unfortunately, serving sizes can be hard to determine — especially from country to country, where produce size and dietary habits can greatly differ. (In fact, one study, conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, looked at typical food servings in nine European countries and found as much as a sixfold difference in size.) Appropriate servings can also vary depending on the gender, age, size and activity level of an individual.

In order to monitor fruit and vegetable intake, however, we need to try to measure it. The World Health Organization recommends at least 400 grams of vegetables and fruits per day — or five servings of 80 grams each. (Tubers such as potatoes and cassava, however, are not included in this recommendation.)

Comparing fruits and vegetables to everyday items, like a light bulb or tennis ball, can give us a rough idea of one serving size. A piece of fruit that fits inside your hand, or a helping of cooked vegetables or raw, leafy greens similar to the size of your fist may also be considered one serving size.

Still having a hard time figuring out how many servings you are consuming? Aim to eat one fruit or vegetable at least five times a day and you’ll probably hit the mark.

October 2003

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