Fruits and vegetables get top billing in the new dietary guidelines for Americans.
 
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released Jan. 7, and the first two recommendations advise consumers to eat more vegetables and fruit.
 
According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, the guidelines suggest Americans should consume a variety of vegetables, including dark green, red and orange, and all fruit, especially whole fruits. 
 
Other guidelines focus on dairy, grain and protein, and consumption of plants containing oil, including avocados.
 
The guidelines are issued every five years by the USDA and HHS. While eating more fruits and vegetables has been a recommendation of earlier dietary guidelines, Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health at the United Fresh Produce Association, said the 2015-2020 guidelines lead with that advice.
 
“For the first time, the fruit and vegetable recommendation is at the top of their list,” she said. “This really elevates us; we are the first recommendation.”
 
United Fresh previously had urged the agencies to focus more on fruits and vegetables in the guidelines, she said.
 
The recommendations reflect decades of research that indicate a diet high in fruit and vegetable consumption is consistently associated with positive health outcomes, DiSogra said. The guidelines report that three out of four Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.
 
“That speaks to the urgency of shifting dietary habits to eat more fruits and vegetables every single day.”
 
DiSogra said an essential purpose of the guidelines is to inform policy, and United Fresh is urging policymakers to align all federal nutrition programs with the guidelines. 
 
“If consumers really do make half their plate fruits and vegetables, everything else changes,” DiSogra said.
 
The Dietary Guidelines are good news for the industry, said Kathy Means. vice president of industry relations at the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association.
 
“Fruits and vegetables remain one of the stars of the dietary guidelines and (the guidelines) also reinforce that Americans are not eating enough.”
 
Boosting consumption to recommended levels will require substantial marketing and communication efforts of both industry and government, Means said.