What is a Serving Size?

When trying to cut back on fat and calories in our diet, "serving size" is a familiar term. But what is a "serving size" of a particular meat, dairy product or fruits and vegetables?

We are going to take the guessing out of the game for you! Listed below are some helpful references when deciding just how large or small a portion is a "serving size!"

What's a recommended serving size for meat?

  • Experts suggest 3 oz of cooked meat which is the size of: a deck of cards; or a hamburger bun.

What's a recommended serving size for cheese?

One ounce of cheese equals:

  • 1 cube of hard cheese
  • 3 tablespoons of grated cheese
  • 1 1/2 slices of wrapped cheese

Remember that brands may differ, so check the label!

What counts towards five servings of fruits and vegetables a day?

All varieties of fruits and vegetables - fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100 percent juice. A serving size is smaller than many people think. The National Cancer Institute defines a serving as:

  • One medium-sized fruit (ex. apple, orange, banana, pear)
  • 1/2 cup of raw, cooked, canned or frozen fruits or vegetables
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice
  • 1/2 cup cut-up fruit
  • 1/2 cup cooked or canned legumes (beans and peas)
  • 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetables (ex. lettuce, spinach)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (ex. raisins, apricots, mango)

Be creative when eating your five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. And remember, 5 A Day is a minimum...5-9 is even better.

For more, please visit the Nutrition Center.

Some of the above information has been provided with the kind permission of The National Cancer Institute, NIH (www.nih.gov, www.pueblo.gsa.gov).
Last Editorial Review: 1/28/2003