CDC: Only 1 in 10 Americans Eat Enough Produce

Fruits and vegetables.

Andriy Onufriyenko / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • Most Americans don’t eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Getting your fruits and vegetables in your diet is important for your body and health.
  • There are some simple ways to incorporate them into your daily routine.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults eat 1.5 to 2 cup-equivalents of fruits and 2 to 3 cup-equivalents of vegetables every day. However, according to recent data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about 10% of adults in the United States are meeting those recommendations. 

The data, which was based on surveys from 2019, produced similar results as those from when American adults’ dietary intakes were analyzed in 2015.

Very Few People Met Fruit and Vegetable Recommendations

The researchers wanted to determine the percentage of adults in the United States who were eating the recommended amounts of produce as set by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the researchers randomly collected dietary data on American adults. There were more than 418,000 people in the system. Among them, the researchers decided that almost 295,000 responses met their criteria to be included in the analysis.

The researchers also took variables like location, gender, race, and socioeconomic status into account when they analyzed the data.

Here are some key findings from the report:

  • 12.3% of adults met fruit intake recommendations
  • 10% of adults met vegetable intake recommendations
  • Hispanic adults ate the most fruit (16.4%) 
  • Adults over the age of 51 years ate the most vegetables (12.5%)
  • People living below or close to the poverty level ate the fewest vegetables (6.8%) 
  • More women met both fruit and vegetable recommendations than did men

Why Fruits and Vegetables Matter

Elise Compston, RD, LD, a registered dietitian and co-owner of Compston Kitchen, told Verywell that research continues to show that eating more produce “is associated with a decreased risk of developing a number of chronic conditions, lowers the rate of mortality, and may strengthen our immune system against illness.”

However, Compston also pointed out that many people encounter barriers to eating enough fruits and vegetables. For example, supply chain issues, increasing costs of food, and perceptions that certain varieties of food (like canned versions) are not as good as other options can all act as barriers.

Chrissy Carroll, MPH, RD, a registered dietitian and blogger at Snacking in Sneakers, told Verywell that “fruits and vegetables are a valuable source of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber—all of which are essential for promoting overall wellness and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.”

According to Carroll, nutrition experts often “see arguments about organic versus conventional produce, or local versus transported produce” but these arguments might not be as relevant when you consider that only one in 10 people are meeting the minimum recommendations for any fruit and vegetable intake.

Instead, Carroll said that the focus needs to shift from the nuances of nutrition to simply promoting all produce to everyone.

What This Means For You

You should aim to eat 1.5 to 2 cup-equivalents of fruits and 2 to 3 cup-equivalents of vegetables every day.

Tips for Eating More Produce

While we may understand that including a variety of fruits and vegetables in our diets is beneficial for our health, many of us aren’t putting that knowledge into action.

That said, there are steps that you can take to increase your produce intake every day. Eating more fruits and vegetables can be simple and low-cost with some know-how and creativity.

Here are a few ways to get more produce in your diet:

  • Choose 100% fruit juice (1/2 cup equals a 1/2 serving of fruit)
  • Know which foods are considered vegetables (e.g., potatoes, corn, yams, beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils) and find new ways to add them to your meals
  • Reach for dried fruit, like prunes or raisins, instead of candy if you want something sweet
  • Make frozen cooked vegetables part of casseroles and stir-fries
  • Add riced cauliflower to your favorite smoothie recipes
  • Use sliced carrots, cucumber, and other veggies instead of chips for dipping
  • Top salads with canned hearts of palm or artichoke hearts or a Mediterranean-inspired boost of nutrition
  • When mixing up homemade soups, toss in some extra vegetables
  • Keep canned vegetables (with no added salt) on hand. Pre-chop vegetables when you get home from the grocery store to make adding a veggie to recipes quick and easy.
  • Instead of processed, sugary add-ons, top desserts with fruit
3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary guidelines for Americans.

  2. Lee SH, Moore LV, Park S, Harris DM, Blanck HM. Adults meeting fruit and vegetable intake recommendations — United States, 2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2022;71(1):1–9. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7101a1

  3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 1 in 10 Americans get enough fruits and vegetables.