Here’s the scoop on daily serving amounts

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It’s easy to get carried away with “all you can eat” buffets and super size portions at restaurants and fast food establishments. Even at home it can be difficult to limit yourself, whether you’re passing around dishes at the dinner table or eating chips out of the bag while binge watching TV.

Here’s the scoop on proper serving amounts for average adults. Keeping the five major food groups in check, plus limiting your intake of fats and oils, will help to keep you healthy.

Fruits

The average adult man needs 2 cups of fruit per day. Women ages 19-30 also need 2 cups of fruit per day. Women ages 31 and older need 1.5 cups of fruit per day. These amounts are appropriate for people who get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily beyond normal activity.

Examples of 1 cup of fruit:

  • ½ large apple (3.25” diameter) or 1 small apple (2.5”)
  • 1 large banana (8” or 9” in length)
  • raspberries, oranges, lemons, kiwi, blueberries32 seedless grapes
  • 1 large peach (2 ¾” diameter)
  • 3 medium or 2 large plums
  • 8 large strawberries
  • ½ cup of dried fruit is equivalent to 1 cup fresh fruit

An easy way to tell if you’re eating a cup of fruit is to measure the fruit in a 1 cup measuring cup.

Vegetables

The average man ages 19 to 50 needs 3 cups of vegetables each day. Men ages 51 and older need 2.5 cups of vegetables per day. For average women ages 19 to 50, 2.5 cups of vegetables are required. Women ages 51 and older only need 2 cups of vegetables per day.

USDA’s Choose MyPlate breaks down the types and specific amounts of vegetables that people need to consume each week here.

vegetablesExamples of 1 cup of vegetables:

  • 3 5” long spears of broccoli
  • 1 large raw whole tomato (3”)
  • 1 large baked sweet potato (2 ¼” or larger in diameter)
  • 1 large ear of corn (8” to 9” long)
  • 1 medium boiled or baked potato (2.5” to 3” diameter)
  • 20 medium to long French fried potatoes (2.5” to 4” long)
  • 2 large stalks of celery (11” to 12” long)
  • 1 large green pepper (3” diameter, 3 ¾” long)

As with fruit, an easy way to measure one cup of vegetables is to use a 1 cup measuring cup of raw or cooked vegetables.

Grains

The average man ages 19 to 30 needs at least 4 ounces of grains (8 ounces are recommended) daily. Men ages 31 to 50 need at least 3.5 ounces of grains (7 ounces are recommended) daily. Men ages 51 and older need at least 3 ounces of grains (6 ounces are recommended) daily.

For women ages 19 to 50, 3 ounces of grains minimum are needed (6 ounces are recommended) daily. Women ages 51 and older require at least 3 ounces of grains daily, too, but 5 ounces are recommended.

bowl of oatmealExamples of 1 ounce of grains:

  • 1” mini bagel (1 large bagel contains 4 ounces of grains)
  • 1 small biscuit (2” diameter) (1 large, 3” diameter biscuit contains 2 ounces of grains)
  • 1 regular slice of bread
  • 1 small square of cornbread (2 ½” by 1 ¼” by 1 ¼”)
  • 5 whole wheat crackers, 2 rye crispbreads or 7 square or round crackers
  • ½ English muffin
  • ½ cup cooked oatmeal, 1 instant packet, ⅓ cup dry oatmeal
  • 1 4 ½” pancake or 2 3” pancakes
  • 3 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 cup cereal flakes or rounds
  • 1 ¼ cup puffed cereal
  • ½ cooked rice
  • ½ cup cooked pasta or 1 ounce dry pasta
  • 1 6” flour tortilla or 1 6” corn tortilla

Protein Foods

Average men ages 19 to 30 need 6.5 ounces of protein foods each day. Men ages 31 to 50 need 6 ounces per day, and men ages 51 and older need 5.5 ounces of protein foods daily.

Average women ages 19 to 30 need 5.5 ounces of protein foods daily. Women ages 31 and older need 5 ounces of protein foods daily.

lemon chickenExamples of 1 ounce of protein foods:

  • 1 ounce cooked lean beef, pork or ham
  • 1 ounce cooked chicken or turkey without skin
  • 1 slice of turkey (4 ½” by 2 ½” by ⅛”)
  • 1 ounce cooked fish or shellfish
  • 1 egg
  • ½ ounce of nuts (12 almonds, 24 pistachios or 7 walnut halves)
  • ½ ounce of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower or squash seeds, hulled and roasted)
  • 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter
  • ¼ cup cooked beans (black, white, kidney, pinto)
  • ¼ cup cooked peas (chickpeas, cow peas, lentils, split peas)
  • ¼ cup baked or refried beans
  • ¼ cup tofu
  • 1 ounce cooked tempeh
  • 2 Tablespoons hummus

Dairy

Average adult men and women all need 3 cups of dairy foods daily.

milk, cheese, butter, cottage cheeseExamples of 1 cup of dairy:

  • 1 half-pint container milk, ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 1 regular container yogurt (8 fluid ounces)
  • 1 ½ ounces hard cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, Parmesan)
  • ⅓ cup shredded cheese
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1 cup pudding made with milk
  • 1 cup frozen yogurt
  • 1 ½ cups ice cream
  • 1 half-pint container calcium-fortified soymilk

Source: USDA’s Choose MyPlate

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