If You Eat Any Fruits Or Veggies At All, You’re Doing Better Than Half Of America

High angle view of green fruits and vegetables on plates Trinette Reed via Getty Images

If you’re feeling down about how you eat, consider this: if you eat about one cup of fruit and more than 1.5 cups of vegetables a day, you’re actually eating better than about half of all Americans. If you eat 1.5 cups of fruit (the recommended serving size for an adult), you’re doing better than more than three-fourths of Americans. And if you eat two cups of vegetables a day (another recommended serving size), that’s better than almost 90 percent of your neighbors.

We say this not to put down our fellow Americans, but to point out that eating more fruits and vegetables is linked to lower rates of heart disease, stroke and a few kinds of cancer. Fruits and vegetables help people maintain healthy weights, the fiber in fruits and vegetables help keep our bowel movements on schedule and there’s even some evidence that fruits and vegetables can give your skin a more attractive glow.

So what holds people back from chowing down on their greens (and purples, and reds, and oranges, and yellows)? One theory is that vegetables and fruit are just not very … convenient. They don’t come in a ready-to-eat package, you have to generally wash and/or chop them first, and some vegetables need to be cooked in order for people to enjoy their taste to the fullest. If you don’t eat or freeze them by a certain date, they rot, which means you’re out some cabbage (and maybe actual cabbage). And speaking of money, some people may find that fresh fruits and vegetables cost too much, or aren’t available for affordable prices in stores near where they live.

There are a lot of things our government can do to help make fresh produce more affordable for all. The state of California, land of the perpetual farmers market season,matches food benefits that people spend at farmers markets with extra money, and policy experts like Marion Nestle say there’s no reason the federal government can’t subsidize the fruit and vegetable industry the way they do corn or soybeans.

But another fundamental reason people don’t eat vegetables is that they simply don’t like the way they taste. While all vegetables have natural sugars in them, some may taste bitter to the uninitiated. Others might have bad memories from when they were forced to eat certain dishes as a child. Others, like Phil Rosenthal, host of the travel and food show “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having,” may just have the unluckiness to be born into a family of lackluster cooks who made all food taste bad. No matter what your story, here are a few tips from nutritionist Nancy Farrell, spokeswoman of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, on how to slowly, gently, ease vegetables and fruits into your life.

More at MSN Health & Fitness

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