Is 3 vegetables a day enough?

Getting enough vegetables is a key part of a healthy diet. But how many servings of veggies do you really need each day? The recommended amount is at least 3-5 servings per day.

What Counts as a Serving of Vegetables?

Before determining if 3 veggies a day is enough, it’s important to understand what counts as a serving. Here are some common serving sizes for veggies:

  • 1 cup raw leafy greens like spinach or kale
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw or cooked vegetables like broccoli, carrots, or tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup vegetable juice

So a single serving is often around 1/2 – 1 cup of vegetables. This means if you eat a big salad for lunch with 2 cups of lettuce and veggies, that counts as 2 servings already.

Benefits of Eating More Vegetables

Vegetables provide many important nutrients and health benefits. Here are some of the top reasons to aim for more than just 3 servings of vegetables per day:

  • Fiber – Vegetables are loaded with fiber, which supports digestive and heart health.
  • Vitamins & minerals – Vegetables provide vitamins A, C, K, folate, potassium, and more.
  • Disease prevention – Eating more veggies can help prevent chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Gut health – The fiber and antioxidants in veggies promote a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Weight management – Veggies are low in calories so they can help with weight loss or maintenance.

How Many Veggies Should You Eat Per Day?

Most health organizations recommend aiming for at least 2 1/2 – 3 cups of vegetables per day as part of a balanced diet. Here are the specific recommendations:

  • USDA – 2 1/2 – 3 cups per day
  • American Heart Association – 4-5 servings (2 1/2 – 3 cups) per day
  • Mayo Clinic – 2 1/2 – 4 cups per day

So while 3 servings or cups is a good minimum target, experts recommend striving for higher amounts up to 4-5 cups daily for optimal health.

Tips to Eat More Vegetables

Here are some helpful ways to easily increase your vegetable intake if you’re currently not hitting the recommended 3-5 servings per day:

  • Add veggies to eggs, pasta, rice, pizza, soups, casseroles, etc.
  • Try new veggies you’ve never eaten before like artichokes, radishes, or parsnips.
  • Roast a big batch of vegetables to add to meals all week.
  • Buy pre-chopped packaged veggies to throw in salads, tacos, stir-fries.
  • Make veggie-based soups or chilis.
  • Keep washed and chopped veggies front and center in the fridge.
  • Start lunch or dinner with a big salad topped with lots of favorites.
  • Grab baby carrots, snap peas, bell pepper strips for quick snacks.
  • Drink vegetable juice as a snack (limit to 1 serving per day).

Should You Count Starchy Vegetables and Legumes?

Starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn are higher in carbs and calories than non-starchy veggies. Legumes like beans and lentils also contain more calories and carbs per serving. The recommended 3-5 servings per day focus mainly on non-starchy vegetables and don’t necessarily include starchy veggies and legumes.

However, starchy vegetables and legumes can still be part of a healthy diet in moderation. Aim to limit starchy vegetables to 1-2 servings per day and legumes to 1/2 – 1 cup per day. Enjoy them in addition to your servings of lower calorie non-starchy vegetables.


Getting at least 3 servings of vegetables per day is good, but aiming for 4-5 servings daily is ideal. Non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, etc. are lowest in calories and provide the most nutrients per serving. Round out your vegetable intake with moderate amounts of starchy veggies and legumes as well.

Eating a rainbow of vegetable servings may take some extra effort at first. But with delicious recipes and simple meal planning strategies, getting in those 4-5 daily cups of veggies can become a tasty habit!

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