Some Americans grow into adulthood with memories of forcing down broccoli or brussels sprouts. But Mom's advice to "eat your vegetables" has fallen on deaf ears for most. The New York Times reports that only 26 percent of Americans eat three or more servings of vegetables a day. And this is still below the daily recommended amount of four to five daily servings.
A decade ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pledged to encourage Americans to eat their vegetables. A serving of vegetables can be a half a cup of green vegetables, half a cup of cooked dried beans, or even six ounces of vegetable juice. And yet, most Americans are falling far short of these nutritional requirements. Some experts feel this has to do with the lack of convenience that vegetables pose to the working populace. While ready-to-eat bagged salads are a $3 billion a year business, Americans will still pick potato chips they can eat on the go over leafy greens.
David Bernstein is a New York waiter who is familiar with the farmers market. Yet as he told the New York Times, he mostly eats bacon, chicken breasts and yogurt. According to Bernstein, "It's just like any other bad habit. Part of it is just that vegetables are a little intimidating. I'm not afraid of zucchinis, but I just don't know how to cook them." Others complain that you can't exactly put a piece of kale in your purse you like can an apple.
But what is the price of not eating vegetables? Mostly, it means that Americans are lacking in vital nutrients. Antioxidants and fiber fill vegetables, as well as key nutrients such as potassium, beta-carotene, iron, folate, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A, C, E and K. Fiber can reduce cholesterol; potassium, found in foods like spinach, helps blood pressure. Vitamin C helps gums and teeth, while vitamin E fights against premature aging.
It seems like vegetables can offer aid to almost every human ailment. And yet, only 23 percent of American meals include them. And in restaurants, a mere five percent of main entrees ordered are a salad. This has dropped by half since 1989. Experts feel that the higher price and lack of availability of vegetables make them a more difficult choice for Americans. Marcia Mogelonsky is a senior analyst for Mintel, a global marketing firm. As she told the New York Times, "Eating vegetables is a lot less fun than eating flavor-blasted Doritos. You will always have to fight that."
There is some positive news about vegetables. McDonald's sells more salads than any other eatery on the planet.
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