I’m working in a coffee shop today for a change of scenery and am astounded at the sheer number of coffee and tea beverages available, many bursting with excessive caffeine, sugar, and fat. According to the American Chemical Society, coffee is the primary source of antioxidants in the American diet.¹ This is not because coffee supplies so many antioxidants, but rather, because Americans drink so much of this caffeinated beverage. Although coffee does have nutritional benefits, this information suggests to me that Americans simply don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables! MyPyramid, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) food guidance system² recommends most adults consume 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables each day to achieve optimal health; however, in 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that only 32.6% of U.S. adults consume fruit 2 or more times per day and 27.2% consume vegetables 3 or more times per day. Indeed, we are falling far short of meeting our needs for these nutritious sources of antioxidants and essential nutrients!
The USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines suggest that fruits and vegetables fill half of your plate.³ This is an easy visual to make sure that you are filling up on nutrient-rich foods. It isn’t difficult to add fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks; try adding a delicious pear to cereal or with breakfast, a colorful variety of vegetables with lunch and dinner, and add another fruit for a snack. Not only will this provide important antioxidants to help fend off chronic illness, but these food groups are full of essential nutrients and will keep you feeling full throughout the day. Start right now!
¹Vinson JA et al. Polyphenols: total amounts in foods and beverages and U.S. per capital consumption. Abstract number AGFD 10. Presented at the American Chemical Society 230th National Meeting in Washington, D.C. August 28, 2005. http://www.acs.org