Only 1 in 10 Americans Eats Enough Fruits and Veggies: CDC

THURSDAY, July 9, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Only about one in every 10 Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables, a new government report shows.

Just 13 percent of U.S. residents consume one and a half to two cups of fruit every day as recommended by federal dietary guidelines, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

The news on the vegetable front was even worse. Less than 9 percent of Americans eat two to three cups of vegetables every day as recommended, the report showed.

Even residents of California, the state with the best consumption rate for these nutritious foods, fell woefully behind. Only close to 18 percent of Californians ate enough fruit every day, and only 13 percent ate enough vegetables.

via Only 1 in 10 Americans Eats Enough Fruits and Veggies: CDC.

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Free radicals and antioxidants – those terms everyone throws around…

So what are they?

Your body uses oxygen for numerous metabolic reactions, as well as part of your immune system. (Our bodies use them to attack bacteria and viruses. ) Sometimes when oxygen interacts with different compounds it can become a free radical.

A free radical is a molecule that has one or more unpaired electrons. So what? A molecule wants to have all of it’s orbitals filled – usually each atom in a molecule likes to have 8 electrons or it shares electrons with another atom in the molecule so it’s balanced. So if a molecule has only 7 electrons, it’s going to pull from somewhere else – from another molecule or atom that has a less strong hold on its electrons. Now the first one is stabilized, but the second one is out an electron or two and becomes a free radical. 

An antioxidant is a molecule that give up an electron but then reconfigures to a way that it’s still balanced and doesn’t become a free radical itself.

Free radicals attack fats in our cell membranes and damage our cell functioning. They can also alter DNA, RNA and proteins and increase inflammation. All of this has a big domino effect on the body.

Your body naturally defends against oxidants/free radicals by making enzymes out of the minerals selenium, copper, manganese and zinc. It also uses vitamins like E, beta-cartone and vitamin C. All of these are found in diets high in fruits and veggies.

The dirty dozen…

In a perfect world, we would buy all of our groceries organic. Unfortunately, organic food is still more expensive (although the price is continually dropping) or even unavailable. To make wiser consumer choices here is a list of produce with the highest level of pesticide contamination. The following list is based on information and studies by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Consumer Reports, and the Environmental Working Group. (http://gourmetfood.about.com/od/slowfoodorganiclocal/a/organicproduce_2.htm)

  1. Nectarines – 97.3% of nectarines sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  2. Celery – 94.5% of celery sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  3. Pears – 94.4% of pears sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  4. Peaches – 93.7% of peaches sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  5. Apples – 91% of apples sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  6. Cherries – 91% of cherries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  7. Strawberries – 90% of strawberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  8. Imported Grapes – 86% of imported grapes (i.e. Chile) sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  9. Spinach – 83.4% of spinach sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  10. Potatoes – 79.3% of potatoes sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  11. Bell Peppers – 68% of bell peppers sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  12. Red Raspberries – 59% of red raspberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.

If you can go to your local farm stand and know they’re not using pesticides, that’s great too!

A reminder you can go cheap if you have to on anything you peel off the pesticides – ex: a banana.