Fruits and veggies gaining ground, but not fast enough

December 31, 2001

DALLAS, Dec. 31 - The percentage of men who consumed fruits and vegetables at least five times a day increased from 16.5 percent in 1990 to 19.1 percent in 1996. The percentage of women eating enough fruits and vegetables increased from 21.3 percent in 1990 to 26.2 percent in 1996, according to the American Heart Association's 2002 Heart and Stroke Statistical Update, an annual publication released today. The stats on fruits and vegetables are encouraging, but still low, says Barbara Howard, Ph.D., chair of the American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee and president of MedStar Research Institute in Washington, D.C. Only 22.7 percent of adults consumed fruits and vegetables at least five times a day in 1996. This was an increase from 19 percent in 1990.

The highest proportion of adults who ate fruits and vegetables at least five times a day were 65 years and older, whites, college graduates, those actively engaged in leisure-time physical activity and nonsmokers.

"The American Heart Association advocates a dietary pattern that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, lean meat, poultry and fish," says Howard. "The organization also suggests limiting saturated and trans fats, dietary cholesterol and sodium. Finding a delicious way to incorporate these recommendations into an individual's diet can be a highly effective means of reducing the risk of heart disease.

"It's good to see that more people are eating fruits and vegetables, but it looks like there is a significant number of people still missing the message," says Howard.

The update also reports that from 1990 to 1996, the percentage of obese adults who consumed the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables dropped from 16.8 percent to 15.4 percent.
Editor's Note: For healthy eating and cooking tips, visit

Darcy Spitz: (212) 878-5940
Carole Bullock: (214) 706-1279

American Heart Association

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