Only about one in every 10 Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables, a new government report shows.
Just 13 percent of U.S. residents consume one and a half to two cups of fruit every day as recommended by federal dietary guidelines, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
The news on the vegetable front was even worse. Less than 9 percent of Americans eat two to three cups of vegetables every day as recommended, the report showed.
Even residents of California, the state with the best consumption rate for these nutritious foods, fell woefully behind. Only close to 18 percent of Californians ate enough fruit every day, and only 13 percent ate enough vegetables.
Tennessee and Mississippi ranked among the lowest in terms of people eating enough fruits and veggies.
This is the first time that researchers have been able to break down fruit and vegetable consumption on a state-by-state basis, said study author Latetia Moore, an epidemiologist with the CDC’s Obesity Prevention and Control Branch.
Eating a good amount of colorful fruits and vegetables is important because they help lower a person’s risk of chronic illnesses such as obesity, heart disease andtype 2 diabetes, said Jordana Turkel, a registered dietitian at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
For example, fruits and vegetables are generally low in fat, which helps control cholesterol, Turkel said. They also contain a lot of fiber, which helps control spikes in blood sugar by slowing the digestive process.
“We are seeing now what is going to happen if this trend continues,” Turkel said. “Obesity is on the rise. The rates of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are on the rise. I think we are seeing the effects of all of this now.”
Another stumbling block might be convenience, Dubost added. People may not want to go to the hassle of buying and preparing fruits and vegetables, even though time-saving options have become available, including bagged salads, precooked vegetables and microwaveable steam-in-the-bag frozen veggies.
Moore said part of the problem might be that people have a hard time grasping just how much fruit or vegetables are needed to meet daily requirements.
“It’s not that hard to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables,” she said. “If you eat at least a banana and half an apple, you’re done for the day with fruit. For vegetables, if you have a side salad with lunch and a couple of vegetables with dinner, you’re done for the day. It’s not that hard to do, and it’s not that expensive to do.”