It seems like common sense that we should all be eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, but common sense or not―researchers want data from well conducted studies on which to base their conclusions. This is why the findings of several recent studies are so important. One such study known as the EPIC study (2007), followed dietary and lifestyle factors of more than 41,000 individuals. After 7 years of gathering data, researchers made the conclusion: high intakes of fruit and vegetables are associated with reduced mortality. The researchers went on to explain that the benefits of fruits and vegetables are likely due to their antioxidant content.
Whether you view a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as ‘common sense’ or ‘scientific fact’― very few people are actually eating the foods they know they should. In 2008 the Center for Disease Control reported the changes of fruit and vegetable consumption in the United States from 1994 to 2005 (BRFSS). More than 1.2 million people participated in the survey; the results showed that over the course of the 9 years analyzed, fruit and vegetable consumption decreased by 0.22 servings per day. A decrease of 0.22 servings might not sound bad to you, but Americans weren’t exactly consuming copious amounts of produce to begin with. Another study base on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) reported that less than 11% of the nearly 24,000 Americans surveyed achieved USDA guidelines for both fruit and vegetable consumption, that means 9 out of 10 people do not consume the recommended two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables each day. In fact, 2 out of 3 people reported that they consumed less than one serving of fruit per day – and that included orange juice as a serving of fruit! A shocking 25% of participants reported that they ate no servings of vegetables per day (Casagrande 2007). Despite huge investments in government programs like the 5 a day program, recommendations simply aren’t translating into dietary habits.