Although fruits and vegetables are considered a key part of healthy eating, most U.S. adults are not consuming enough of them, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It found that only 12 percent of adults consume 1½ to 2 cups of fruit daily, the amount recommended by the federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Even fewer — just 10 percent — eat the suggested 2 to 3 cups of vegetables daily.
People 50 and older are more likely than younger people to consume vegetables regularly, and men are less likely than women to eat either fruits or vegetables. The report also found that fruit and vegetable consumption is less common among low- and middle-income people than among those with higher incomes.
Diets rich in fruits and vegetables — generally packed with vitamins and minerals, low in calories and high in fiber — offer a range of benefits. These include supporting immune function and preventing chronic disease, including some conditions that raise the risk for severe illness and death from covid-19, according to the CDC.
Research has found that including adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables in your diet can help lower blood pressure, aid digestion, keep weight under control, reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and may protect against certain cancers, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. To add mental health benefits to the plusses of eating fruits and vegetables, consider growing some of your own. Research has shown that such gardening can improve mood, reduce anxiety and enhance self-esteem, according to the National Institutes of Health.
— Linda Searing