Having a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet has been taught and encouraged by health professionals for decades.
But according to a study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, adults still aren’t getting enough.
In fact, only 1 in 10 adults actually meet the recommended intake of those food groups.
The CDC stated that adults are encouraged to eat at least one and a half to two cups of fruit each day in addition to two to three cups of vegetables.
“Yet in 2015, just 9 percent of adults met the recommendations for fruit, ranging from 7 percent in West Virginia to 16 percent in Washington, D.C.,” the report stated. “Results showed that consumption was lower among men, young adults and adults living in poverty.”
In the southwestern Pennsylvania region, similar results are observed according to Krista Begonia, M.Ed., RD, LDN Clinical Nutrition with Monongahela Valley Hospital.
When adults don’t have those foods in their diets, Begonia said they’re missing out not only in what they contain, but the fact that they’re naturally love in calories and fat.
“They contain many important nutrients such as Vitamin A, C and Folic Acid as well as minerals such as potassium,” she said, adding that they’re both also high in fiber.
According to the CDC report, which referred to data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States and District of Columbia, 2015, the percentage of people in Pennsylvania who meet the fruit and vegetable recommendations are 11.7 and 8.4 respectively.
Pennsylvania was also similar to average findings, in that consumption rates were lower among men (8.6 percent) compared to women (14.7), according to the report.
“This report highlights that very few Americans eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables every day, putting them at risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease,” said Seung Hee Lee Kwan, Ph.D., of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, lead author of the study as listed on their website. “As a result, we’re missing out on the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that fruits and vegetables provide.”
To help curb the shortage of fruit and veggie intake, Begonia recommended a proactive approach, noting that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
“Remember to plan ahead and sneak foods into your daily meal by having fruits for snacks with yogurt and adding to cereal,” Begonia said.
“Choose in-season produce and remember canned fruits packed in 100 percent juice and low sodium canned vegetables are less expensive,” she added.
The CDC also suggested several ways to increase intake on a larger level, including working with farm-to-institution programs in childcare, schools, hospitals, workplaces and other institutions.
Improving access to retail stores and markets that sell high quality fruits and veggies, and ensuring access to fruit and veggies in cafeterias, were also larger-scale suggestions from the CDC.
Begonia also recommended visiting www.choosemyplate.gov, developed by the USDA, to develop a plan for adding veggies and fruits back into your diet.