Eating Your Fruits and Vegetables?

Foods in storage container

Are You Eating Your Fruits and Vegetables?

Let’s take a look at recommendations for eating your fruits and vegetables.  We will also look at recommendations on the serving sizes of various fruits and vegetables.

The Federal Government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) provides information on Americans’ consumption of foods and nutrients as well as extensive health-related data.

The samples for this study data obtained below consisted of 9,339 people age 19 and over with reliable dietary intake data (7,182 age 19 to 19 to 64 and 2,157 age 65 and over).

In addition to recommendations for total fruit and vegetable intake, the Dietary Guidelines provide suggestions on the portion sizes of various types of fruits and vegetables. For fruit intake, the guidelines suggest that the majority of the total daily amount be as whole fruit.  This means fresh, frozen, dried, and canned fruit that is whole or has been cut up.  It does not include juice. Whole fruits and vegetables ensure adequate fiber intake.

Fresh Vegetables and Fruits

Food Guide recommendations for eating your fruits and vegetables are:

  1. Sedentary women age 51 and over consume 1.5 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables per day (for a 1600 calorie diet).
  2. Sedentary men age 51 and over consume 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day for a 2000 calorie diet.

Younger adults and more physically active individuals have higher intakes. This is because of higher caloric needs.

How Do We Measure Up?

For people age 65 and over, the average amount consumed was 1.4 cups for males and 1.3 cups for females.

Older Americans were significantly more likely to eat fruit on a given day than younger.

About 70 percent of people age 19 to 64 report consuming fruit on a given day. Females were significantly more likely than males to eat fruit.

Overall, we don’t measure up when it comes to fruit. Fruit and vegetable intake levels were found to be less than the amount recommended by the Dietary Guidelines. See data tables:

Eating Your Fruits and Vegetables Intake Table 1

Eating Your Fruits and Vegetables Intake Table 2

People of all ages and both genders did better with vegetables, which we found a bit surprising. Most people (95 percent) report eating their vegetables.

The Dietary Guidelines recommend that a variety of vegetables be selected each day. Vegetables from each of five subgroups be selected several times a week. The sub groups are dark green, orange, legumes, starchy, and other.

Food group recommendations vary by age and gender as well as by physical activity level.

Source: USDA Nutrition Insights

Author: Jeni

Certified by the Professional School of Fitness and Nutrition in March, 1995; honored for exemplary grades. Practicing fitness and nutrition for over 20 years. Featured in the Feb. 1994 issue of "Shape" magazine. Featured in Collage in the spring issue of 1995 Low fat recipe's published in Taste of Home, Quick Cooking, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, among others. September, 2001: Featured in "Winning The War on Cholesterol" By Rodale Publishing