The newest yearly score for the nutrition of United States citizens confirms what we’ve all known but most of us love to ignore – the American way of eating leaves much to be desired in terms of nutrition. According the the CDC, we are not eating enough green vegetables or whole grains, but going overboard on the sweets. This validates what we’ve all suspected, especially with the proliferation of fast food restaurants and super size combos available with nary a spinach salad in sight. Maybe calling attention to this will help us brush up on our nutrition needs for 2012.
Our scores over the past several years have remained dismally low and this year was no exception. The average American overall diet score did not top 60 points out of 100 on the Healthy Eating Index. This index, created in 2005 to determine how nutritiously America ate and to look for ways to improve diets. The Index rates us on our ingestion of specific food groups, including whole fruits, dark green and orange vegetables, whole grains, milk, meat and beans, oils, fats, sodium, alcohol, and added sugar. In the most recent reporting, women tended to score significantly higher than their male counterparts, particularly in the areas of fruits and vegetables. Older people, as well as those who completed higher education levels, also had better scores.
Bethene Ervin, PhD, RD, reported these facts in a National Health Statistics Report and says that the scores indicate that most Americans’ diets need improvement. At the conclusion of her report, Ervin said that most Americans need to add whole grains, leafy dark greens and fruits to their diet and reduce the intake of sugars and alcohol.
If you are looking to improve your diet, one great place to start is by following the new MyPlate guidelines, which call for half of your meal plate to be comprised of fruits and vegetables. Swap your white pasta for whole wheat, add a fruit at each meal and a vegetable with lunch and dinner. Snack on fresh veggies or fruit and never forget the power of a smoothie.