A recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals only 10 percent of Americans are getting enough fruit and vegetables in their daily diet.

Researchers used data from a 2015 government survey of a nationally representative sample of over 319,000 Americans. The survey asked the participants how many times in the past 30 days they had consumed 100 percent fruit juice, dried beans, whole fruit or green, orange or other vegetables. The researchers found those who consumed five each day lowered their risk of developing cancer, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetesand obesity.

Researchers also found that consumption was even lower among adults and young adults living below the poverty line. The report from the CDC attributed the reduced intake to lack of access, cost and the perceived need for cooking and preparation that may get in the way of people consuming enough fruit and vegetables each day.

Depending upon the individual’s age and gender, federal guidelines recommend eating between 1.5 and two servings of fruit and two to three servings of vegetables a day.Seven of the top 10 leading causes of death are the result of chronic disease that researchers believe could be avoided with better nutrition.

Any foods that aren’t whole foods, directly from the vine, ground, bush or tree, is considered processed. If it’s been altered in any way, it is processed, such as bread, pasta, canned or frozen foods. Depending on the amount of change the food undergoes, processing may be minimal or significant. For instance, frozen fruit is usually minimally processed, while pizza, soda, chips and microwave meals are ultra-processed foods.

The difference in the amount of sugar between foods that are ultra-processed and minimally processed is dramatic. Research has demonstrated that nearly 2 percent of calories in processed foods comes from sugar, while unprocessed foods contains no refined or added sugar.

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