For a number of years the CDC has been studying the fruit and vegetable intake of Americans based on national dietary guidelines. Currently, the guidelines recommend 2-4 servings of fruit, and 3-5 servings of vegetables daily. In 2013 state and national surveys determined that on average, only 13% of americans met the recommended daily serving of fruit. As for vegetables, only 9% met the recommendation.
These numbers seem less surprising when looking at the health conditions of most americans. Studies show that in the last 30 years obesity rates have doubled in adults, and tripled in children. A more recent report showed that about one third of adults living in the U.S. are overweight or obese.
Increases in conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers are closely correlated with improper nutrition and obesity, and these numbers continue to rise despite the efforts of nutritionists and groups such as the CDC and the American Heart Association to educate and encourage proper nutrition in adults and children.
Fruits and vegetables are an imperative part of our diets. They directly impact our overall health and wellness, as well as our bodies’ ability to prevent diseases and fight illnesses. Chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, have been shown to occur less frequently in individuals who eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables every day.
Many other conditions, such as nutrient deficiencies and digestive issues, can also be the result of insufficient daily servings of fruit and veggies.
So what makes fruit and vegetables so important for our diet anyway? The answer lies in the nutritional makeup of these foods. Fruits and vegetables are low in energy density. They are also full of fiber and water. This means that they add to the balance of your daily portions without overloading you with calories. Their water and fiber content aids your body’s hydration level and digestive system. They also control appetite, decrease cholesterol, and aid in the removal of toxins from the body.
Fruit and veggies are also a large contributer of the daily vitamins and minerals our bodies need in order to thrive. Vitamins A, B, and C are found in various types of fruit and vegetables, and aid in immune function, wound healing, iron absorption, metabolism, and hormone production; along with numerous other important bodily functions.
In response to the results of these studies, the CDC recommends better dietary practices earlier in life, and for school districts, daycares, work places, and grocery stores to actively participate in encouraging improved dietary and personal wellness practices and nutritional education with emphasis on the importance of fruits and vegetables as a part of a healthy diet. So if you ever needed a reason to start your own permaculture garden, here is the perfect time.