Overfed and Undernourished

By Susan Littlefield

Here's an alarming statistic. According to a nationwide dietary survey conducted by researchers at the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, ″For people over age 2, grain-based desserts accounted for a greater proportion of daily calories than any other food group.″ This means that foods such as cakes, cookies, pies, cobblers, sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts are ″the main source of excess calories in the U.S. diet.″ Wow!

What else are we getting too much of? Salt for one. The survey found that most American adults consume more than twice the maximum recommended daily sodium intake.

What is lacking? Vitamins C and A, and magnesium, nutrients that fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can provide. But the survey found that the average woman gets only one of the recommended one-and-a-half to two servings of fruit a day and men only slightly over one of the recommended two to two-and-a-half servings. And while it's recommended that adults get a minimum of seven cups of red, orange, and dark-green vegetables per week, most of us are consuming a mere half that amount. Consumption of whole grains is similarly low.

What's an easy and economical way to increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables in your diet? You guessed it -- grow your own! A food garden is an excellent way boost your nutrition -- and to have some fun and get some healthful exercise in the process. A handful of sweet strawberries or blueberries fresh from garden or a just picked, fully ripe tomato makes a delicious snack that will put any nutrition-poor donut to shame.

To read more about the national "What We Eat in America" survey, go to: ARS.

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