EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 11, 2014

N.H. falls short on fruits, veggie servings

N.H. residents - better than average - still fall short on recommended servings

By John Toole

---- — New Hampshire residents are among the nation’s leaders in eating their fruits and vegetables, but well short of the five daily servings recommended by health officials.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed New Hampshire adults surpassing the national average of 1.6 servings of vegetables with 1.8.

The fruit side of the ledger had New Hampshire at 1.3 servings, compared to 1.1 nationally.

“I am pleased to see that our state is on the high end of fruits and vegetables consumption, but we can and should do better for ourselves and our families and New Hampshire,” said Dr. Jose Montero, the state’s public health director, in announcing the findings.

New Hampshire tied Vermont, California, Connecticut and the District of Columbia at the head of the class for fruit consumption.

Massachusetts was at 1.2 daily servings. Oklahoma and Mississippi trailed the field at 0.9 servings.

When it came to veggies, New Hampshire tied California and the District of Columbia in the runner-up position behind national leader Oregon at 1.9 servings.

Massachusetts came in at 1.7 servings of vegetables. Down at the bottom at 1.4 servings were Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota.

New Hampshire adolescents are matching the national average of 1.0 servings of fruit and 1.3 servings of vegetables. Massachusetts figures were unavailable.

“As more is learned about nutrition and its effect on our overall health the more important the consumption of fruits and vegetables becomes as part of a healthy diet,” Montero said.

The message from the health pros is simple: Fruits and veggies are good for you.

“Fruits and vegetables are an important way of getting nutrients into your body,” Greater Derry Regional Public Health Network coordinator Garrett Simonsen said.

“Studies have shown that a diet that includes fruits and vegetables helps reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases such as cancer,” Simonsen said.

Simonsen said it’s about making conscious decisions.

He had made them throughout the day and expected to get in his five servings.

Simonsen had strawberries, blueberries, two bananas and a salad before dinner.

“I’m on four, almost to five,” he said early yesterday afternoon.

Simonsen said First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to encourage healthy eating and the development of farmers’ markets in many communities is helping, but statistics show there is a lag in adopting that lifestyle approach.

A challenge for some is knowing how to prepare fruits and vegetables, he said.

“Gardening is another way people have been introduced to increasing fruits and vegetables into their diet,” he said.

If people aren’t eating fruits and vegetables, they’re missing out, said Salem farmer John Peters, who with his brother, Mike, operates the Peters Brothers Farmstand.

“They are missing out on the health benefits. Fruits and vegetables are low fat, low in sodium,” Peters said.

“And they are missing the great taste,” he said.

Their farmstand will be open for the season in June, with strawberries up first, followed by corn and tomatoes in July.

“Eat more fruits and vegetables,” Peters said. “It’s proven that people live longer, healthier lives.”

Simonsen’s advice on fruits and vegetables: “Eat your green beans tonight.”