New research reveals most adults need to double fruit and vegetable intake

August 11, 2014, Nutrilite

New research published in the September issue of the British Journal of Nutrition and featured in the just released Global Phytonutrient Report highlights a significant shortfall in fruit and vegetable consumption in people's diets around the world. Commissioned by the Nutrilite Health Institute of Amway, the research finds the majority of adults worldwide would have to at least double their current consumption of fruits and vegetables to meet the World Health Organization's minimum recommendation of five servings (400 grams) per day. Additionally, the vast majority of adults worldwide – 60 to 87 percent across 13 geographic diet regions – are falling short of this recommendation and missing out on crucial nutrition and health benefits.

The gap between the recommended amount of and what are actually eating also indicates that most adults worldwide are not receiving the quantity or variety of phytonutrients – organic compounds found in fruits and vegetables – potentially needed to support their health and wellness. While specific recommendations for phytonutrient consumption levels have not yet been established uniformly worldwide, a growing body of research suggests that eating foods rich in phytonutrients may provide a range of health benefits, from promoting eye, bone and heart health, to supporting immune and brain function. Many phytonutrients are powerful antioxidants that can help fight the damage caused to our bodies' cells over time.

"Insights from the research highlight a global need for increased awareness of the relationship between and vegetable consumption, and phytonutrient intakes," said Keith Randolph, Ph.D., nutrition technology strategist at the Nutrilite Health Institute and co-author of the research published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

The Effect of Low Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Availability on Phytonutrient Intake

The research examined the impact of low fruit and on phytonutrient intake in each of the 13 regions under study. This examination found adults consuming five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables had two to six times the average intake of phytonutrients of adults consuming fewer than five servings per day.

Additionally, the research looks at the variety and availability of fruits and vegetables in each of the regions. It shows that phytonutrient intake estimates vary considerably across some regions, a reflection of limited availability of some fruits and vegetables. Key findings include:

  • European Regions: When compared to other regions, adults in European regions, in particular Northern Europe, likely have high intakes of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, attributable in part to the relative high availability of carrots. These phytonutrients are known to support healthy growth and development.1
  • Asian Regions: Adults in Asia (A), which includes China and India, likely have relatively low intakes of ellagic acid due to the limited availability of berries. Ellagic acid is shown to be vital to cell health.2,3
  • South/Central America: Adults in South/Central America likely have relatively low intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin – phytonutrients thought to be crucial to healthy vision4,5 – relative to adults in Asia or Northern Europe.
  • All Regions: Fruiting vegetables (e.g. tomatoes and corn) and tropical and subtropical fruits (e.g. plantains and bananas) are among the most commonly available vegetables and fruits across most regions. Given this, adults worldwide consuming fruits and vegetables will likely receive some level of lycopene, which supports heart health,6 as well as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein/zeaxanthin.

"Both the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables in a person's diet are important," said Mary Murphy, MS, RD, senior managing scientist at Exponent, Inc. and co-author of the study. "In order to consume a range of phytonutrients people should aim to meet recommended intakes of fruits and vegetables and eat an assortment of fruits and vegetables."

Factors Contributing to Low Phytonutrient Intake

Dr. Randolph acknowledges that busy lives, cost, seasonal and geographic availability, as well as perceptions of the value of fruits and vegetables as a food source, could all influence people's consumption of fruits and vegetables, and ultimately phytonutrients.

"No matter where they live, many adults today lead busy and active lives and/or may have limited access to some fruits and vegetables," said Randolph. "That's why it's important for adults to eat whole foods, including fruits and , whenever possible. But when availability is limited or diet is not enough, dietary supplementation may be an option for individuals looking to increase their phytonutrient consumption," added Randolph.

Explore further: Older adults doing better than younger when it comes to phytonutrient consumption in daily diet

Related Stories

Older adults doing better than younger when it comes to phytonutrient consumption in daily diet

April 13, 2011
Although only one in 10 American adults eats enough fruits and vegetables, new research being presented at the Experimental Biology meeting this week in Washington, D.C., finds older adults are consuming higher levels of ...

Five daily portions of fruit and vegetables may be enough to lower risk of death

July 30, 2014
These results conflict with a recent study published in BMJ's Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggesting that seven or more daily portions of fruits and vegetables were linked to lowest risk of death.

Fruits, veggies not a magic bullet for weight loss, study finds

June 25, 2014
(HealthDay)—Eating lots of fruits and vegetables is often recommended as a way to lose weight, but doing so may not help you shed excess pounds, according to researchers.

Most kids eat fruit, veggies daily: CDC

July 16, 2014
(HealthDay)—More than three-quarters of U.S. children eat fruit on any given day, and nearly 92 percent dig into vegetables in a 24-hour period, a new U.S. health survey reveals.

Recommended for you

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Scott_Johnson
not rated yet Aug 11, 2014
Herbalife operates like most other MLMs and similar to Amway, the largest MLM scam on the planet. Read about them by googling "stop the amway tool scam wordpress"

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.