Americans are slackers when it comes to fruits and veggies

Americans are slackers when it comes to fruits and veggies

If you think you are not eating enough fruits and vegetables, you’re probably right. In fact, only one in 10 Americans eat enough of them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Only about 13.1 percent of Americans are eating enough fruits and only about 9 percent are eating enough vegetables, according to the CDC report. The federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults eat one-and-a-half to two cups of fruit per day and two to three cups of vegetables daily.

“We should aim to get more fruits and vegetables into our daily meals,” say Jamie Portnoy, a registered dietician with Advocate Medical Group’s Advocate Weight Management. “Choose the rainbow. The more colorful your plate, the more nutrients you are getting.”

The report suggests new efforts are needed to build consumer demand for fruits and vegetables through competitive pricing and promotion in child care facilities, schools, grocery stores, communities and workplaces.

“Eating fruits and vegetables rich in potassium is an important part of an overall healthy diet,” says Portnoy. “They may reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and may help to decrease bone loss. They cut the risk for heart disease and diabetes, too.”

Additionally, the CDC report says eating more fruits and vegetables reduces the risk for stroke and some cancers, and helps manage body weight when eaten instead of more energy-dense foods.

Portnoy says some fruits are more nutritious than others but all count toward the daily recommended amounts.

“Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, whole, cut-up or pureed, but fresh is always the best option,” she says.

To get more fruits and vegetables in your diet, Portnoy recommends:

  • Getting the widest range of nutrients, all colors are important: red, green, yellow, purple, orange, etc. When looking at your plate, aim for color.
  • Adding fruit to your yogurt in the morning. For a snack, have 17 grapes. That’s a serving right there.
  • Adding nonstarchy vegetables such as lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes to your sandwich to make it more full
  • Choosing a salad, broccoli or green beans instead of fries.

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One Comment

  1. Dr. Ashwani Garg
    Ashwani Garg MD July 15, 2015 at 1:59 pm · Reply

    Since changing over to a plant-based whole food (vegan) eating plan 2 years ago, I have never eaten as much fruits and veggies as I do now, and easily go over the CDC recommendations. No concern about protein, because everything contains protein which is the building block of life. Eat 1/2 a head of cauliflower, get 8 grams protein. Eat 1 cup of lentils, get 18 grams protein. Add 1 cup of rice to that, get another 5 grams protein. So you combine all of these, total of 30 grams protein in 1 meal! And tons of fiber and nutrients. This is just a small example. Take your weight in lbs, divide by 3, and that’s how much protein, minimum, one needs in a day. You can easily get that. If you can’t give up meat/cheese, etc. that’s OK, eat it only once a day, in a small quantity, as a side but make the majority of your food veggies, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts/seeds. This is the healthiest eating plan. For more examples go to and for completely vegan plan go to

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About the Author

Kathleen Troher
Kathleen Troher

Kathleen Troher, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Good Sheperd Hospital in Barrington. She has more than 20 years of journalism experience, with her primary focus in the newspaper and magazine industry. Kathleen graduated from Columbia College in Chicago, earning her degree in journalism with an emphasis on science writing and broadcasting. She loves to travel with her husband, Ross. They share their home with a sweet Samoyed named Maggie.