The MyPyramid guide, which can be found at www.MyPyramid.com, personalizes its recommendations depending on the age, sex and activity level of the individual consulting it, but usually recommends 1 to 2.5 cups of fruit and 1 to 4 cups of vegetables per day.
According to the results, most Americans were lacking dark green and orange vegetables and legumes from their diets more than any other fruit or vegetable.
"A large proportion of the U.S. population needs to increase their fruit and vegetable intake if recommendations are to be met," the researchers noted in the report, published in this month's Journal of the American Dietetic Association. "Barriers to increasing consumption ... should be investigated, and strategies for appropriate programs and interventions should be developed."
Previous studies have linked consumption of fruits and vegetables to a reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, and better weight management through the feeling of fullness and the decrease in the body's energy intake brought on by the foods. The USDA cited these results as the primary reasons the agency switched from their famous Food Guide Pyramid to the new MyPyramid system in 2005. The MyPyramid guide shows a marked increase in recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, and also offers recommendations on specific types of vegetables.
Certain mitigating factors, such as the MyPyramid guide recommending a high level of dairy intake regardless of the individual, have prompted health advocates such as Mike Adams to recommend against using the USDA system in favor of financially unmotivated guides like the Honest Food Guide, available at www.HonestFoodGuide.org. "The USDA MyPyramid nutritional guide is widely viewed as a joke among serious nutritionists," he said. "And that makes it doubly frustrating that most Americans are not even meeting its watered-down nutritional guidelines. People are still consuming far too much meat, milk, processed foods and refined grains and sugars," he said. "And part of the problem is the USDA itself, which designed the MyPyramid guide to appease influential food corporations and the dairy industry rather than to give the American public honest advice about nutrition."