How much do you need per day?

Eating vegetables provides many health benefits, including reduced risk of chronic disease. Because each vegetable has unique nutrients, we need to choose a variety for meals and snacks, including dark green and orange vegetables and legumes.

MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines recommend 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of vegetables daily for elementary age children. Teens and adults need 2 1/2 to 3 cups. Vegetable can be fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. They can be eaten raw, cooked, whole, cut-up, or mashed.

Pack and go! Vegetables are nature's original fast food. When it's snack time, grab baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, or some red, yellow, and green peppers. Try dipping your vegetables in lowfat or nonfat salad dressing.
 

Spend Smart ... compare fresh, frozen, and canned

Fresh

  • Buy fresh vegetables in season. They cost less and are likely to be at their peak favor. When not in season, frozen or canned versions are often a smarter buy. For example, buy fresh sweet corn in the summer but frozen or canned corn during other months.
  • Wash vegetables before preparing or eating them. Under clean, running water, rub vegetables briskly with your hands to remove dirt and germs. Dry with paper towels after washing.
  • Consider price and your own philosophy when deciding whether to buy organic vegetables. They tend to cost more, and research has not proven them to be nutritionally superior.
  • Get more tips from the fresh vegetable guide.

Frozen

  • Commercially frozen products are frozen within hours of picking and tend to retain more favor. They also have less sodium than canned.
  • Buy plain frozen vegetables instead of those with special sauces or seasonings, which can add calories, fat, and sodium as well as cost.
  • Compare prices and convenience when choosing package size. Bags offer the advantage of using just what you need.

Canned

  • Consider store brands; they are usually lower priced and often packed by the same manufacturers as name brands.
  • Choose the product most appropriate for intended use. For example, buy the least expensive chopped tomato for a soup or stew.
  • Drain and rinse canned vegetables to reduce the sodium.
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