What’s on your plate today? If your food choices look anything like the Standard American Diet, it’s pretty S.A.D.

About 88% of adults don’t eat enough fruit, and 90% don’t eat enough vegetables.1

So what are people eating? Pizza, burgers, fries, desserts, processed foods, and too much alcohol.

Sure, it’s fast and convenient. But when most of your meals come from a box, drive-thru or restaurant, there;s a good chance you’re eating too many calories and missing out on essential nutrients your body needs for best health.

Been there, done that? If your eating habits need work, you’re not alone. For example:

  • Sodium. 9 out of 10 adults consume 3,400 mg of sodium per day. But health experts recommend less than 2,300 mg.
  • Sugary drinks. 5 in 10 adults gulp down a sugary drink every day (soda, energy drink, coffee loaded with sugar and cream)

The SAD truth about poor eating habits

So what happens if your eating habits are S.A.D. for months, or maybe even years?

The occasional fast food meal, sugary drink, or dessert isn’t that big of a deal. However, research shows that over time, poor eating habits increase the risk for health problems like:2

  • Obesity. An estimated 73.6 percent of all adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese.
  • Heart disease. It’s the leading cause of death in the U.S. Heart disease claims the lives of an estimated 697,000 people a year, even though it’s largely preventable with diet, exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits.
  • Stroke. Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke when blood flow to the brain is blocked. 1 out 6 who experience a stroke die.
  • Type 2 diabetes. About 37 million people in the U.S. have type 2 diabetes. Another 96 million have prediabetes, and most don’t even know it. Left unchecked, diabetes can lead to nerve damage, poor circulation, vision loss, kidney disease, heart disease, and other health problems. But research shows it’s preventable and reversible with a plant-based diet.3
  • Certain types of cancer. Being overweight or obese increases the risk for 13 different types of cancer.

A Fresh Way to Improve Your Health

If you want to improve your health, lower your risk for disease and feel better, try this fresh approach:

Eat more fruits and vegetables

Why? The S.A.D. diet doesn’t include a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. A few pizza toppings or tomato, pickle, and lettuce on a burger aren’t enough.

Instead, here’s what an adult’s fruit and vegetable intake should look like for best health:

  • Fruits:1.5 to 2 cups per day
  • Vegetables: 2 to 3 cups per day

It’s not as hard as you might think. Include fruits and vegetables with every meal and enjoy as a snack. For example:

  • Have a banana for breakfast.
  • Enjoy Greek yogurt with berries as a snack.
  • Eat a leafy-green salad for lunch or dinner.
  • Half your plate should include fruits and vegetables at every meal.

When most of your food comes from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, you’ll be healthier and feel better (instead of S.A.D.)

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