How many fruits and vegetables are you supposed to eat every day? Is it four fruits and five vegetables, or three herbs, two vegetables, and six fruits? The most recent data from the USDA suggests that adults need between 1.5 to two cups of fruits and two to three cups of vegetables every day. Unfortunately, the majority of American adults (90%) do not meet these targets for daily fruit and vegetable intake.
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help promote overall health and reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death. Despite the positive benefits of eating more plant-based foods, only one in 10 adults meets daily fruit and vegetable intake. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported this fact earlier this year in January 2022. This data comes from the 2019 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, which included dietary information from over 290,000 American adults over the age of 18.
What Did The Survey Find?
The survey found that a mere 12.3% of adults were successful at meeting daily fruit requirements. Only 10% of adults in the survey said they met daily vegetable intake recommendations on a regular basis. Observers noted that social aspects, including finances and pandemic supply chain issues, contributed to people’s ability to access healthy foods. One of the authors of the study also stated that high cost and limited access to healthier foods existed before the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to published data, low-income and rural or racial ethnic minority communities tend to lack convenient places to buy affordable, healthy foods. The study confirmed that lower-income American adults had lower rates of meeting the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables. Additionally, men were less likely than women to meet these USDA consumption guidelines. The study also noted that Hispanic adults over the age of 51 consumed the most produce.
What Does This Mean?
Missing out on the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables can impact your health in myriad ways. Firstly, you can experience weaker immune function, as the probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber support the immune system. Secondly, failure to include fruits and vegetables in your daily diet increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, or heart disease. Finally, it can be difficult to protect against certain types of cancers if you don’t consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables daily. Both fruits and vegetables exhibit protective phytonutrients with anti-cancer properties.
Why Do You Need Fruits And Vegetables Every Day?
When it comes to nutrients, vegetables tend to exhibit higher nutritional profiles, with the exemption of certain super fruits. Vegetables, however, tend to be lower in sugar, calories, and carbs, but have an impressive amount of vitamins and minerals. Kale, broccoli, bell peppers, asparagus, onions, and other leafy greens tend to exhibit the most diverse nutritional profiles. Fruits provide plenty of essential nutrients, especially fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and flavonoid antioxidants. Fruits do contain natural sugars and more calories, so you don’t need as much in your daily diet.
In order for people to increase their daily intake of fruits and vegetables, several things have to happen. There needs to more of an emphasis on freshness and less focus on processed foods, meats, dairy products, and artificial foods. The reality is that those foods are sometimes more affordable than fruits and vegetables. An expansion of farm-to-institution programs in childcare, schools, hospitals, and workplaces is a great first step. Additionally, it’s vital to improve access to retail stores and markets that sell higher quality fruits and vegetables. Time and money don’t have to get in the way of eating healthy! There are many easy recipe to make that emphasize fruit and vegetable consumption. Just click here to explore our recipe section as a start!