Three of every four Americans are failing to eat vegetables at least three times daily, and two out of every three are failing to eat two fruits daily, according to a new survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These results mean that most U.S. residents aren't taking one of the simplest preventative health steps. Fruits and vegetables have been shown to build up our immune systems, lower blood pressure, help us lose weight and reduce the risk for many leading causes of death including cancer and heart disease.
Most people should be eating at least 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables daily and 2 cups of fruit a day, according to government health guidelines. (The government has recently changed how it measures fruit and vegetable intake, from "servings" to "cups."). Yet despite trends towards leading healthier lifestyles and concern for the planet, the survey indicates that in 2009, just 32.5% of Americans consumed fruit two or more times per day and 26.3% of the adult population consumed vegetables three or more times per day. Further, the population is somehow eating less fruit than 10 years ago. The percentage of Americans adhering to the national fruit target has decreased from 34.4% in 2000 to 32.5% in 2009 a nearly 2-percentage point drop that researchers say is small, but significant.
It's not that surprising that people are eating less fruit now than 10 years ago, or that they're failing to eat enough fruits and vegetables in general, according to Marion Nestle, a well-known New York University nutritionist. "Two quick answers: price and convenience. The relative cost of fresh fruits and vegetables has increased by 40% since 1980, whereas the relative cost of junk foods has gone down by 20% to 40%. If people don't have access to decent fruits and vegetables, they can't buy them," Nestle said.
Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables? To find out, first calculate your own personalized recommendation. Then, check out these seven everyday tips to help make your appetite a little greener:
1. Plan Ahead
Pre-slice fruits and vegetables at home and bring them to work/school to snack on through out the day.
2. Eat Seasonal Produce
As we fall into Autumn, get inspired by seasonal dishes. Eating seasonal produce means eating fruits and vegetables at their freshest and most delicious:
Photo: Sue Wilson / Getty Images
3. Add Vegetables to Your Favorite Meals
Include fruits and vegetables into salads and heartier meals that you would not necessarily think to:
4. Go Vegetarian, at Least Once a Week
A vegetarian diet isn't for everyone, but mastering even one delicious vegetarian meal a week can make a big difference for your health. Try these delicious vegetarian recipes that even a meat-eater can love.
5. Make It Fun
Make a family occasion out of it like Fruit Night Fridays, Berry Sundays/Sundaes, or Monday Night Crudite. Try crudite with a pumpkin-sage pate for a little seasonal spice and get your favorite football fans in the healthy eating huddle!
6. Get The Kids Involved
Have your kids think up exciting ideas that they would want to eat and make it a project you can share with them:
7. Journal Your Daily Fruit and Veggie Intake and Monitor It.Try and see if you can increase just 1 more serving a day for a few months. In no time it will become a daily habit, you will look better and feel healthier!
To increase your intake, let your local farms help. Go to farmers markets (Identify a farmers' market in your area using the "Get Local Info" tool on The Daily Green's homepage and plan a shopping trip there. Or join a CSA group (community supported agriculture) and have fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers delivered to your doorstep. (Photo: Stockxpert)
Please let us know what you think by leaving comments and suggestions below. Feel free to tell us how you plan on adding some more garden variety into your everyday life!
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.