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Cancer Trends Progress Report – 2011/2012 Update

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In the Report
Summary Tables
Smoking Initiation
Youth Smoking
Adult Smoking
Quitting Smoking
Clinicians’ Advice to Quit Smoking
Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Dependence Treatments
> Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
Red Meat Consumption
Fat Consumption
Alcohol Consumption
Physical Activity
Sun Protection
Secondhand Smoke
Tobacco Company Marketing Expenditures
Early Detection
Life After Cancer
End of Life

Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
Prevention: Behavioral Factors

Fruit and vegetable intake remained relatively stable between 1994 and 2004.

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Limited Fruit and Vegetable Consumption is a Cancer Risk

People whose diets are rich in plant foods such as fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of getting cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, and lung, and there is some suggested evidence that such individuals also have a lower risk of cancers of the colon, pancreas, and prostate. They are also less likely to get diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. A diet high in fruits and vegetables helps to reduce calorie intake and may help to control weight.

To help prevent the aforementioned cancers and other chronic diseases, experts recommend 2 to 6½ cups of fruits and vegetables daily, depending on energy needs. This includes 1 to 2½ cups of fruits and 1 to 4 cups of vegetables, with special emphasis on dark green and orange vegetables and legumes. There is no evidence that the popular white potato protects against cancer.

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Average daily cup equivalents of fruits and vegetables for people aged 2 years and older. This measure includes fruits and vegetables from all sources.

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Period – 1989–2004

We used the My Pyramid Equivalents Database to estimate food group intake (available at Please note that these data are currently available only through 2003–2004 NHANES. We will update as new data become available.

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Total fruits and vegetables: Relatively stable

Fruits: Relatively stable

Vegetables: Relatively stable

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Most Recent Estimates

From 2001 to 2004, people aged 2 years and older consumed, on average, 0.5 cup equivalents of fruits per 1,000 calories and 0.8 cup equivalents of vegetables per 1,000 calories (including 0.1 cup equivalents of dark green and orange vegetables and legumes per 1,000 calories).

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Healthy People 2020 Targets

0.9 cup equivalents of fruits per 1,000 calories.

1.1 cup equivalents of vegetables per 1,000 calories, with at least 0.3 cup equivalents of dark green or orange vegetables or legumes per 1,000 calories.

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Groups at High Risk for Not Eating Enough Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit consumption is highest among the youngest and oldest segments of the population. Total fruit and vegetable consumption tends to increase with age, education, and income. Among racial and ethnic groups, blacks have the lowest intake and Mexican Americans have the highest.

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Key Issues

Dietary guidance released in 2010 recommended increased intake of fruits and vegetables based on evolving evidence of the benefit of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.The majority of Americans do not meet recommendations for fruits and vegetables intake.Additional servings of fruits and vegetables should replace sources of "empty calories" in the diet, such as added sugars (honey, syrup, soft drinks) and solid fats (butter, sour cream), to avoid taking in too many calories. Individuals should be especially encouraged to consume dark green and orange varieties of vegetables such as broccoli or carrots and legumes or dried beans, such as pinto beans or lentils.

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Additional Information on Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

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