Healthy Eating

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: February 20th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Most people know fruits and vegetables need to make up a large portion of their daily diet if they want to be healthy. But for many, that’s easier said than done.

According to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, low-income Americans would have to spend up to seventy percent of their food budget on fruits and vegetables to meet the new national guidelines for healthy eating.

The U-S Department of Agriculture recently revised its dietary guidelines, increasing the number of recommended servings of fruits and vegetables per day from five to nine.

Most people struggle to meet this quota. In fact, a 2006 study showed that only ten percent of people were able to meet the new guidelines. But the goal is even harder to attain for low-income Americans.

To conduct the study, researchers calculated the cost of a “market basket” of fruits and vegetables at twenty-five supermarkets in Sacramento and Los Angeles over three time periods.

The good news: Researchers found the cost of fresh produce has dropped since 1995. The bad news: Low-income families would still have to spend between forty and seventy percent of their food budget to get the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables.

The finding is troublesome, the researchers say, because a diet rich in healthy produce helps ward off cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

So what’s the solution? Researchers recommend a public education campaign, increasing the food stamp allocation and encouraging more sources of cheap fruits and vegetables.