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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Americans Skimping on Fruits, Veggies

Most U.S. Adults Not Getting Recommended 5 Daily Servings, Says CDC

This WebMD article points out what we already know; very few Americans are eating enough of the proper foods, namely fruits and vegetables.

People should eat at least five daily servings -- two or more servings of fruit, and three or more servings of vegetables -- as part of a balanced diet, says the CDC.

But today the agency reported that in 2005, fewer than 33% of U.S. adults reported eating at least two daily servings of fruit and barely 27% claimed to eat three or more daily servings of vegetables.

I found an odd coincidence about the last paragraph. Fewer than 1/3 of Americans eat the recommended 2+ fruit and 3+ vegetables servings and more than 2/3 of Americans are overweight. The really incredible part of this finding is that a the standards for "a serving" are paltry. A medium apple or orange, 12 grapes, 1 cup of spinach, or 6-8 carrot sticks is all it takes to get 1 serving. In essence, 1 serving is tiny and few people get enough of those, much less go over and above the call of duty.

I surmise that the culprit is our huge intake of displacing foods. Displacing foods are the processed crud that we fill our plates with that displace more healthful choices like vegetables and fruits. Bread and pasta displace broccoli and apples. Ice cream for dessert displaces a bowl of berries with coconut and cinnamon. A single moderately-sized salad can fulfill your entire daily requirement for these nutrient-rich plant foods. In the summer, I eat a family-sized serving bowl full of salad. This is a 10" round, 3-4" deep bowl heaped with spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, celery, radishes, walnuts, pecans, salmon or chicken, and homemade balsamic vinagrette or sesame dressing. According to the CDC's values, I probably eat 4 or 5 servings of vegetables in that one meal, not counting the fruit that follows as dessert. And to top that off, my other meals feature heaps of steamed vegetables, probably bringing my daily total to 12-15 servings of fruits and vegetables according to CDC guidelines.

If you really need justification for eating more vegetables, how does a reduction in risk for an enlarged prostate (men only obviously!) and improved brain function sound? Here's another one: it is virtually impossible to get fat from eating vegetables and nominal amounts of fruit.