Doctor’s Orders: Produce Prescriptions Are The New Medicine

heart-shaped vegetablesThe next time you stop by the supermarket pharmacy to pick up a prescription, swing by the produce section. It could be just as important to your health.

“If you just went around and looked at people’s plates, most of them have more meats and grains and less fruits and vegetables,” said Jo Ann Carson, PhD., professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “It really should be the opposite.”

That’s the idea behind National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, proclaimed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture every June and promoted by nutrition advocates everywhere. For the first time, the American Heart Association is joining the celebration as part of its Healthy For Good program that encourages people to take small steps regarding diet, exercise and lifestyle choices that add up to a big difference.

“June is the time of year fruits and vegetables are at their prime,” said Carson, who chairs the AHA’s Nutrition Committee. “You get great-tasting produce, so it’s a great time for people to enjoy them and make a change in their diet.”

Most of us probably should. A 2015 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control concluded that 75 percent of Americans fall short of government recommendations for eating fruit (1½ to 2 cups per day) and 87 percent don’t meet the vegetable guideline (2 to 3 cups per day).