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Fruits & Veggies - More Matters

When it comes to the American diet the news is mixed. The good news is that American adults are eating more fruits and vegetables. The bad news is that we are still not eating enough. Although eating more fruits and vegetables can have a profound impact on the nation's health, the diets of approximately 70% of American adults and children are still lacking. In 2000, only 22.3% of Georgia adults said that they consumed at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, the minimum of '5 A Day' for better health. And many Americans should really be striving to eat up to 9 servings daily.

The recommendation to eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day dates back to 1991 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) first published the Food Guide Pyramid. The pyramid recommends eating 2 to 4 servings of fruits and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables every day. In 1999, USDA published an additional pyramid for young children specifying that children ages 2 to 6 should eat 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit for a total of 5 servings each day.

Scientific findings continue to support the importance of eating more colorful fruits and vegetables because it may reduce the risk for heart disease, hypertension, certain kinds of cancer, diabetes and other diseases.

Because servings are much smaller than people think, most people do not realize how easy it is to get their 5 to 9 daily servings of fruit and veggies. One serving is only about ½ cup of cooked vegetables or fruit, ¼ cup of dried fruit, ¾ cup of 100% juice, or one cup of salad or leafy greens. A large salad can add up to 2 to 3 servings of vegetables.