Suggested Servings from Each Food Group

serving size

If you’re looking for a simple way to watch your weight & eat healthy, follow this handy serving size chart to understand portions. It’s easier than you think!

One friend will only eat raw food, another has gone full paleo on you, and yet another has sworn off gluten! The good news is, there’s a science-based healthy eating plan that doesn’t require you to give up all the foods you love.

The American Heart Association recommends an overall healthy dietary pattern tailored to your personal and cultural food preferences. This pattern can include a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, fish, skinless poultry, nuts, and fat-free/low-fat dairy products, and should limit sugary drinks, sweets, fatty or processed meats, solid fats, and salty or highly processed foods. It’s all about making smart choices.

So, what and how much should you eat?

Here are the recommended number of daily or weekly servings of each food type, based on eating a total of 2,000 calories per day. Your calorie needs may be different, depending on your age, activity level and whether you are trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. To find your recommended daily calories, use the NIH Body Weight Planner found at https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/bwp/index.html.

What’s a serving?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to measure everything you eat. We’ve provided a few examples of what represents one serving of common foods. Be sure to check the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods to understand the serving size and number of servings per package. And be aware of “portion distortion.” The recommended serving size is often less than the amount you’re used to eating or the portion you are served, especially at restaurants.

Vegetables

  • Fresh, frozen, canned and dried1
  • 5 servings per day
  • Examples:
    • 1 cup raw leafy greens
    • ½ cup cut-up vegetables
    • ½ cup cooked beans or peas2
    • ¼ cup 100% vegetable juice3

Fruits

  • Fresh, frozen, canned and dried1
  • 4 servings per day
  • Examples:
    • 1 medium whole fruit
    • ½ cup cut-up fruit
    • ¼ cup 100% fruit juice3
    • ¼ cup dried fruit1

Grains

  • At least half should be whole grain/high in dietary fiber
  • 6 servings per day
  • Examples:
    • 1 slice bread
    • 1 small tortilla
    • 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal flakes
    • 1 oz (⅛ cup) uncooked pasta or rice
    • 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal
    • 1/2 cup popped popcorn

Dairy4

  • Low-fat and fat-free
  • 3 servings per day
  • Examples:
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 cup yogurt
    • 1.5 oz cheese

Poultry, meat and eggs

  • Lean and extra-lean; skin and visible fat removed
  • 8-9 servings per week
  • Examples:
    • 3 oz cooked meat or poultry
    • 1 egg or 2 egg whites

Fish and other seafood

  • Preferably oily fish that provide omega-3 fatty acids
  • 2-3 servings per week
  • Example:
    • 3 oz cooked fish or seafood

Nuts, seeds, beans and legumes

  • 5 servings per week
  • Examples:
    •  Tbsp peanut butter
    • 2 Tbsp or 1/2 oz nuts or seeds
    • ¼ cup cooked beans or peas2

Fats and oils

  • Preferably unsaturated
  • 3 servings per day
  • Examples:
    • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil (canola, corn, olive, soybean, safflower)
    • 1 Tbsp soft margarine
    • 1 Tbsp low-fat mayonnaise
    • 1 Tbsp light salad dressing

 

1 Frozen, canned and dried produce can be as nutritious as fresh. Compare nutrition info on package labels and choose products with the lowest amounts of added sugars and sodium. Look for vegetables without salty sauces and fruits packed in their own juices or water instead of heavy syrup. Drain and rinse canned produce and beans.
2 Note that 1/4 cup cooked beans = 1 oz protein equivalent but 1/2 cup cooked beans = 1 vegetable serving.
3 A small portion (1/2 cup) of 100% juice can fulfill one of your recommended daily servings. But keep in mind, juice isn’t as filling as whole fruits and vegetables and may have extra calories and less nutrients like fiber. Avoid sweetened juice and juice drinks.
4 Includes nondairy nut/grain/soy-based milks that are fortified with calcium and vitamin D and low in sugar.

 

Last Reviewed 1/2017


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