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What the average American eats in a year

  • What the average American eats in a year

    When it comes to a healthy diet, most of us are more concerned about avoiding unhealthy foods like sugary sodas and trans fats. But what if we told you that what you do put in your body matters more than what you keep out?

    According to the 27-year global diet analysis published in April 2019 for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017, most U.S. citizens eat the wrong kinds of foods on a regular basis. The study, which explored the dietary risks and health effects in 195 countries, revealed that a lack of healthy foods in the typical American diet is just as (if not more) detrimental to health as a diet high in sugar, salt, and red meat. According to the study, diets low in healthy foods like whole grains, fruits, and seeds kill more people than diets high in trans fats and added sugars.

    For the United States, along with India, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia, Egypt, Germany, Iran, and Turkey, the greatest risk factor for diet-related diseases was a lack of whole grains. One of the biggest problems? Many Americans simply don't know the difference between real whole grains and the refined, processed versions that are often full of sugar or sodium. The trick is to look for the handy Whole Grains Council stamp on your food products. When stacked against the most populated countries in the study, the United States came in second overall for diets low in nuts and seeds, and third for too much sodium.

    Stacker crunched the numbers on data collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture over a 15-year period to determine the food-consumption habits of the average American, ranked per capita and broken down by age group, (for this list, children are considered those younger than age 20, adults are considered those age 20 or older), as well as income bracket. In order to give our readers the most accurate data points, we took the average of each year's numbers. Rather than providing details about broad food groups such as dairy, meat, and sugar, this list dives into more specific foods, such as carrots, yogurt, and apple juice, as well as facts about nutrition from the USDA Agricultural Research Service and the USDA National Agricultural Library.

    See how you match up against the rest of the country with your eating habits—and don't forget that eating healthy is just as important as avoiding the bad stuff.

    You may also like: America's fastest growing imports

  • #50. Leafy vegetables

    U.S. annual consumption: 0.8 lb. per capita (0.02 lb. per week)
    - Child annual consumption: 0.3 lb.
    - Adult annual consumption: 1 lb.
    - Low-income annual consumption: 0.5 lb. (31% below U.S. average)
    - High-income annual consumption: 0.9 lb. (19% above U.S. average)

    Leafy vegetable and greens such as spinach, bok choy, and kale are high in fiber and low in calories (and we all know that kale is certainly having a moment). Considering that these foods are super high in vitamins and minerals, it is pretty disappointing that Americans only consume less than a pound per year. Luckily since the recent rise in popularity of kale, there are plenty of recipes out there to add leafy veggies to your diet.

  • #49. Oils, other

    U.S. annual consumption: 1.1 lb. per capita (0.02 lb. per week)
    - Child annual consumption: 1 lb.
    - Adult annual consumption: 1.2 lb.
    - Low-income annual consumption: 1 lb. (9% below U.S. average)
    - High-income annual consumption: 1.2 lb. (6% above U.S. average)

    These are the oils that aren't used for things like salads or cooking, but rather oils that sneak their way into food items such as spreads, dips, crackers, and chips. Oils, along with healthy fats, are actually pretty crucial to a well-balanced diet as they can help the body absorb nutrients. Plant-based oils (such as the oil from nuts) are entirely free from cholesterol, which is a big win for your heart health, too.

  • #48. Green peas

    U.S. annual consumption: 1.8 lb. per capita (0.04 lb. per week)
    - Child annual consumption: 1.3 lb.
    - Adult annual consumption: 2.0 lb.
    - Low-income annual consumption: 1.7 lb. (7% below U.S. average)
    - High-income annual consumption: 1.9 lb. (3% above U.S. average)

    Something about those squishy little green balls just doesn't sit right with many American children. Peas are high in fiber and rich with vitamins, such as iron and vitamin A, which make them good for energy, strong bones, and vision.

  • #47. Cucumbers

    U.S. annual consumption: 2.2 lb. per capita (0.04 lb. per week)
    - Child annual consumption: 1.5 lb.
    - Adult annual consumption: 2.5 lb.
    - Low-income annual consumption: 2 lb. (12% below U.S. average)
    - High-income annual consumption: 2.4 lb. (7% above U.S. average)

    As with most green vegetables, cucumbers are low in calories, but high in antioxidants and vitamins. The watery veggie is perfect to stick inside a salad or wrap for added hydration on a hot day. Though it may be tempting, resist peeling off that dark green skin while preparing a cucumber: It is a great source of fiber.

  • #46. Tree nuts

    U.S. annual consumption: 2.3 lb. per capita (0.05 lb. per week)
    - Child annual consumption: 0.8 lb.
    - Adult annual consumption: 3 lb.
    - Low-income annual consumption: 1.4 lb. (41% below U.S. average)
    - High-income annual consumption: 3 lb. (26% above U.S. average)

    There's a reason why humans have been eating nuts since the Stone Age. Apart from being easy to consume and prepare, nuts are high in unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and (listen up, vegetarians) protein. Tree nuts are also high in vitamin E, which boosts the immune system and helps skin and hair stay healthy.

  • #45. Oat flour

    U.S. annual consumption: 2.7 lb. per capita (0.05 lb. per week)
    - Child annual consumption: 2.7 lb.
    - Adult annual consumption: 2.7 lb.
    - Low-income annual consumption: 2.3 lb. (15% below U.S. average)
    - High-income annual consumption: 3 lb. (10% above U.S. average)

    Oat flour is whole-grain flour made from finely ground oats, and a staple in many gluten-free foodies' kitchens. It's popular in baking and can be substituted for regular all-purpose flour in recipes for goodies such as cookies and muffins. Consider making the switch to oat flour if you have high cholesterol, as oats have been shown to reduce clogged arteries, according to the USDA.

  • #44. Butter

    U.S. annual consumption: 2.8 lb. per capita (0.05 lb. per week)
    - Child annual consumption: 2 lb.
    - Adult annual consumption: 3.1 lb.
    - Low-income annual consumption: 2.3 lb. (18% below U.S. average)
    - High-income annual consumption: 3.1 lb. (12% above U.S. average)

    Contrary to popular belief (unless you have specific dietary restrictions) butter doesn't exactly deserve the bad reputation it gets. When enjoyed in moderation and paired with other healthy foods, butter is an important part of a balanced diet. Many people choose to stick with grass-fed butter to take advantage of the higher levels of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

  • #43. Celery

    U.S. annual consumption: 2.8 lb. per capita (0.05 lb. per week)
    - Child annual consumption: 1.4 lb.
    - Adult annual consumption: 3.4 lb.
    - Low-income annual consumption: 2.4 lb. (15% below U.S. average)
    - High-income annual consumption: 3.1 lb. (10% above U.S. average)

    While most people find celery flavorless and boring, humans actually have a long history with the humble stalk. According to scientists, people in Egypt, Rome, and China used celery medicinally as an aphrodisiac and hangover cure. The leaves were also used as decoration and crowns for athletes; archeologists even found a celery leaf wreath in King Tut's tomb.

  • #42. Oranges

    U.S. annual consumption: 3.5 lb. per capita (0.07 lb. per week)
    - Child annual consumption: 3.4 lb.
    - Adult annual consumption: 3.5 lb.
    - Low-income annual consumption: 3.9 lb. (13% above U.S. average)
    - High-income annual consumption: 3.2 lb. (8% below U.S. average)

    Everyone knows that oranges are high in vitamin C, but the fruit also has an added bonus when it comes to nutrition. Oranges are full of citrus limonoids, which have been found to help fight several different types of cancer. The USDA continues to study the compound's cholesterol-lowering health benefits, as well.

  • #41. Snap beans

    U.S. annual consumption: 3.7 lb. per capita (0.07 lb. per week)
    - Child annual consumption: 2.2 lb.
    - Adult annual consumption: 4.3 lb.
    - Low-income annual consumption: 3.3 lb. (11% below U.S. average)
    - High-income annual consumption: 4 lb. (7% above U.S. average)

    Also known as green beans or string beans, snap beans are an excellent source of calcium and magnesium, two important minerals for bone strength and development. In fact, the USDA says that both minerals are just as easily absorbed from eating snap beans as drinking milk in children. Even though the levels are different (you'd need five cups of beans to equal the amount of calcium in one cup of milk), it's good news for those seeking calcium from sources other than dairy.

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