The Case for More Vegetables

Do you eat enough vegetables? It’s possible you’re not getting the daily recommended serving of vegetables. According to a study by the Center for Disease Control, only one in ten Americans eat enough vegetables.  The study was part of the CDC’s 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Systems, which looks at how Americans eat and behave. Using landlines and cell phones, researchers, asked how often people eat beans, dark greens, orange vegetables, “other” vegetables, whole fruit and fruit juice. The results did not look good. Only 12% of Americans eat the minimum daily fruit recommendation of one and a half to two cups per day. Meanwhile, only 9% eat the minimal daily vegetable recommendation of two to three cups a day.  

The study breaks down trends by gender, race, and state. West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the country, had the highest likelihood of residents not eating enough vegetables, on average. Only 5.8% of West Virginians got their recommended amount. People between ages 18 and 30 only ate 2.2% of their daily recommended serving of vegetables. While 15.1% of women eat the recommended amount of fruit each day, only 9.2% of men do the same. We see a similar pattern on economic class lines, where 11.4% of wealthy Americans eat enough vegetables, but only 7% of poor people get enough vegetables in their diet.  

We know it is important to eat more fruit and vegetables. A diet lacking fruits and vegetables can adversely affect your health. Poor diet is linked to cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. How many fruits and vegetables are in your diet? If you are an adult engaging in more than 30 minutes of physical activity, 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit are recommended daily and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables are recommended. If you don’t think you’re getting enough fruit and vegetables in your diet, there are a few things you can do to help change that situation.  

First, eat a colorful variety of vegetables. The next time you’re at the grocery store, go to the produce aisle. If you think you’re not eating enough vegetables, look for vegetables in colors you typically don’t eat. If your dinner plate is typically white and green, try adding carrots or eggplants to your plate. Having a rainbow platter at your dinner table is a good guarantee you’ll have a healthy array of vegetables in your daily diet.

Second, get creative. Eating more vegetables doesn’t mean you have to eat a salad everyday.  Experiment  with recipes to put vegetables on your plate in creative ways that still retain their nutritional value while tasting great.   

 Third, you don’t have to eat your vegetables. Juices and smoothies can be an effective way to receive the nutrients from fruits and vegetables without cooking. Many health stores and gyms sell juices and smoothies with a wide variety of different fruits and vegetables. You can also try vitamin supplements or powders. Multivitamins and vegetable replacement pills can help you get vegetables and fruits in your diet. 

You might not get enough vegetables in our diet, but that can change easily. By consciously adding more vegetables to your meals, you can get the recommended amount of vegetables in your diet.

 

How do you plan to add more vegetables and fruits to your diet? Share with us in the comments!

 

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Micah Peterson

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