Canadian Cancer Society logo
You are here: 
A-|A|A+

Vegetables and fruit

Vegetables and fruit are:

  • excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals
  • high in fibre (to keep your digestive system healthy)
  • low in fat and calories

They are also a natural “convenience food” – fruit such as bananas, apples and oranges comes in its own packaging and can be eaten on the go, as can most raw vegetables.

Vegetables, fruit and cancer

Research shows that vegetables and fruit may help protect against certain types of cancer, including head and neck, esophageal, stomach, lung and cervical cancers. A diet that includes a variety of vegetables and fruit instead of higher-fat, higher-calorie foods can help you get to and stay at a healthy weight. Research shows that maintaining a healthy body weight reduces your risk of developing cancer.

  • How much vegetables and fruit?

    Eat the recommended number of servings of vegetables and fruit each day. How much you should have is different depending on your age, sex and activity level. One serving of vegetables or fruit is:

    • 125 mL (1/2 cup) fresh, frozen or canned vegetable or fruit or 100% juice
      • Fruit and vegetable drinks, cocktails, beverages and punches may contain only a small amount of real fruit or vegetable juice along with sugar and other liquids. Check the nutrition information on the label.
    • 250 mL (1 cup) leafy green, leafy raw vegetables or salad
    • 1 piece of fruit, such as a medium apple, orange or banana
  • Tips to mix it up!
    • Prepare a shopping list that includes a variety of fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruit. When fresh vegetables and fruit are not in season, choose frozen, canned or dried. Most frozen and canned foods are processed within hours of harvest, so their flavour and nutrients are preserved.
    • Save time by using canned foods in recipes – most are cooked prior to packaging. Frozen foods also require little preparation as washing and slicing may already be done.
    • Select frozen and canned vegetables and fruit that are low in salt (which may be listed as sodium), fat and added sugar.
    • Choose unsweetened frozen fruit or canned fruit packed in juice. Some frozen vegetables come with sauces that add fat. Read the nutrition labels to see if they are a healthy fat choice.
    • Buy packages of pre-cut carrots, peppers, leafy greens or mixed fruit to make life a little easier if you’re rushing to make lunches each morning.
    • Visit a farmers’ market and buy fresh-picked vegetables and fruit.
    • Have a glass of unsweetened 100% fruit juice and a sliced banana or a small handful of dried fruit with your cereal at breakfast.
    • Liven up the food you eat with crunch and colour. Put tomatoes and cucumber in sandwiches, berries in yogurt and cereal, or extra vegetables in pasta, rice, stir-fries and soups.
    • Add a side salad at lunch. Pack cut vegetable sticks with a low-fat dip.
    • Save time by buying bagged salads and vegetables that are cut up and ready to use. They may cost a little more, but you may find that you waste less.
    • Carry healthy snacks with you – for example, dried fruit mixed with a few nuts, a small bag of carrots or celery – so that you’re not tempted by sugary or fatty snacks when you’re in a hurry. This will also save you money.
    • Think colours when planning a meal. Nothing looks less appetizing than chicken breast, cauliflower and boiled potatoes on a white plate. Instead, skip the boiled potatoes and add stir-fried red and green bell peppers along with roasted sweet potato wedges.
    • Try a new vegetable or fruit every week.
    • Have vegetables and fruit more often than juice. Juice doesn’t give you as much fibre, and it won’t make you feel as full.
    • Mix it up with a variety of seasonings, recipes and meal plans focused on vegetables and fruits.
A-|A|A+

Stories

Dr Robert Bristow Dr Robert Bristow’s research in prostate cancer could help guide personalized treatment.

Learn more

Volunteers provide comfort and kindness

Illustration of volunteers

Thousands of Canadian Cancer Society volunteers work in regional cancer centres, lodges and community hospitals to support people receiving treatment.

Learn more