Healthy Living

Bite Back: Eat Nine a Day

Eating nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables helps you feel healthy, look better and lowers your risk of cancer and other serious diseases.

You can’t beat fruits and vegetables for convenience. Portable and prepackaged, they can be eaten raw and on the go. They give you energy, yet won’t weigh you down like heavy snacks. Nature’s fun food, fruits and vegetables are highly versatile: You can crunch them, dip them, slice them, and cook them in countless ways. So don’t shortchange yourself. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to help you look and feel great.

woman eating an apple

Cruciferous vegetables have chemicals that may help prevent cancer: add broccoli, brussels sprouts, collards, bok choy, kale, cabbage and cauliflower to your diet. (A Hutchinson Center study found that men who eat lots of cruciferous vegetables may be able to cut their risk of prostate cancer by nearly half.)

Vitamin C has chemicals that block some cancer-causing compounds inside your gut. Eating oranges, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, cantaloupe and blueberries can provide lots of vitamin C and other important vitamins.

Vitamin A repairs cell damage in your body that can lead to cancer and other diseases. Eat fruits and vegetables rich in colors such as leafy greens, apricots, cantaloupe, winter squash and sweet potatoes.

Easy answers to eating more fruits and vegetables

fresh fruits and vegetables

"It takes too much time."

  • Microwave vegetables.
  • Buy precut fruits and vegetables.
  • Used canned or frozen items.
  • Drink 100 percent fruit juice to begin the day

“They’re too expensive.”

  • Buy only those fruits and vegetables in season.
  • Shop weekly specials in the produce department.
  • Buy canned or frozen items.
  • Buy dried beans, split peas and lentils.
  • Use fruits and vegetables to replace some expensive meat and snack items.

Want more information?

For more information on this and
other cancer-related topics,
call the National Cancer Institute’s
Cancer Information Service at
1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237)
or visit www.cancer.gov.

“My family won’t eat them.”

  • Serve vegetables raw with a low-fat dip.
  • Keep a bowl of fruit on the counter, within easy reach.
  • Add sliced fruit or berries to breakfast cereal.
  • Keep raw veggies clean and ready for snacking in the fridge.
  • Ask family members to make a list of fruits and vegetables they like, and serve those more often.
  • Try new recipes from www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.

“It gets boring eating the same ones over and over.”

  • Try a new fruit or vegetable each week.
  • Select canned and dried choices to add variety.
  • Choose from 100 different fruits and vegetables in the produce section or 50 varieties in the freezer case.
fresh cherries

“It’s a hassle to get fruits and vegetables at work or away from home.”

  • Keep nuts and dried fruits in your desk drawer.
  • Bring raisins or fruit from home in bag lunches.
  • Drink 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice.
  • Eat fruit for dessert at restaurants.

“They always spoil before I can use them up."

  • Buy only enough fresh produce to use in three to four days.
  • Clean and cut up produce so it will be ready to use.
  • Use perishable fruits and vegetables soon after buying and then enjoy frozen or canned varieties.
  • Store produce (except bananas and potatoes) in the produce drawer of the fridge to stay fresh longer.
  • Keep a supply of canned or frozen fruits and vegetables on hand.

Eating nine servings a day of fruits and vegetables is easy

How much is a serving?

3/4 cup (6 ounces) of 100 percent fruit juice
1 medium piece of fruit
1/4 cup of dried fruit
1/2 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or fruit
1/2 cup of beans or peas
1 cup of raw leafy greens

  • Eat fruit and drink 100 percent fruit juice for breakfast.
  • Eat fruit and vegetables as a snack.
  • Buy fresh, frozen*, canned* and dried fruits and vegetables when you shop.
  • Put fruits and vegetables in easy-to-reach places where you will see them.
  • Steam or microwave fruits and vegetables for five minutes.

* Canned and frozen items can be just as nutritious as fresh! In fact, they keep their nutrients better than fresh produce that has been in transit or sitting for a week or more.

Tips for eating out

  • Order lettuce and two slices of tomato on your deli sandwich.
  • Choose entrees with vegetables in them like stew or stir-fried meals.
  • Ask to replace French fries with a salad, tomato slices or a vegetable side dish.
  • Choose a restaurant that has a salad bar.
  • Ask for fresh juice instead of soda pop.
  • Have a large salad and vegetable-packed soup.
  • Make fruit the main dessert. It’s a refreshing end to a meal.
  • Add vegetables to take-out food—veggies on your  pizza, for example, instead of high-fat, processed meats.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is a world leader in research to prevent, detect and treat cancer and other life-threatening diseases.