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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Why it is Healthy to Eat Foods from Around the World

By Michael McBurney

We choose to eat at home or away-from-home. Eating at home requires buying groceries. Jahns and colleagues analyzed foods advertised in weekly circulars from one supermarket chain with 8 stores in a predominantly non-Hispanic white, midWestern US city (Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2009). Advertised foods were aggregated into MyPlate food groups:  fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, dairy and oils.  They found protein foods group were most often advertised (25%), followed by grains (18%), dairy (10%), vegetables (8%), and fruits (7%). Meat, poultry and cheese were the most often advertised in protein and dairy group. The only seasonality effect was for grains which were promoted more often in the fall. Like Martin-Biggers and associates, they report that protein foods are over-represented whereas dairy, fruits and vegetables are under-represented compared to MyPlate recommendations.

Although consumers associate fruit and vegetables with vitamins, minerals and high nutritional value, campaigns to increase consumption of fruit and vegetables have had mixed success. It is unfortunate. If one-half of the US population were to increase fruit and vegetable consumption by one serving each per day, Reiss and colleagues estimated that 20,000 cancer cases might be avoided annually.

Because few regions of the world produce fruit and vegetables 365 days of the year, we benefit from a global food distribution system. Eating vegetables from different regions is also healthy because plants grown in soils in industrial areas are known to accumulate heavy metals.  Environmental contamination of edible plants isn’t only a concern in China and India. Produce from any urban garden, even the White House garden, can sequester high levels of heavy metals. Conversely, people consuming crops grown on low-selenium soils are at risk of deficiency-related diseases.

MyPlate recommendations encourage balance and moderation. It is important to consume the recommended number of servings from each food group. Having a robust, global food-supply chain is also good for our nutrition and health. Follow MyPlate. Eat a variety of food groups. Take the next step. Choose foods from many regions of the world.

Main Citation

Jahns L, Payne CR, Whigham LD, Johnson LK, Scheedt AJ, Hoverson BS, Kranz S. Foods advertised in US weekly supermarket sales circulars over one year: a content analysis. 2014 Nutr J doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-13-95

Other Citations

Martin-Biggers J, Yorkin M, Aljallad C, Cieierski C, Akhabue I, McKinley J, Hernandez K, Yablonsky C, Jackson R, Quick V, Byrd-Bredbenner C. What foods are US supermarkets promoting? A content of analysis of supermarket sales circulars. 2013 Appetite doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.12.001

Reiss R, Johnston J, Tucker K, Dessesso JM, Keen CL. Estimation of cancer risks and benefits associated with a potential increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. 2012 Food Chem Tox doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2012.2012.08.055

Rekhy R, McConchie R. Promoting consumption of fruit and vegetables for better health. Have campaigns delivered on the goals? 2014 Appetite doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.04.012

Fytianos K, Katsianis G, Triantafyllou P, Zachariadis G. Accumulation of heavy metals in vegetables grown in an industrial area in relation to soil. 2001 Bull Environ Contam Toxicol doi: 10.1007/s00128-001-0141-8

Slavin J. The nutrition elite. 2014 Cereal Foods World doi: 10.1094/CFW-59-4-0212