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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Linda

The standard American diet—that is, the typical diet of the majority of Americans—is high in meat, dairy, fat, sugar as well as refined, processed, and junk foods. The shift in Western diets to include more animal sourced foods and more sugar and corn syrup happened especially quickly after World War II.

The standard American diet includes low intake of fruit and vegetables. A 2010 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control showed that overall, only one state improved on vegetable and fruit consumption compared to such consumption ten years earlier. A study showing compliance with 2005 U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines showed only ¼ of Americans ate at least one fruit serving a day, while only about 1 in 10 ate the recommended minimum amount for vegetables. The average amount of kale each American eats per week is about half a teaspoon. Americans eat so few foods rich in antioxidants, that beer represents the fifth largest source of antioxidants in the standard American diet.  Based on a scale up to 100 measuring percentage of calories from foods rich with phytonutrients, the standard American diet rates about 11.

Switching to plant-based diet can help prevent and even reverse some of the top killer diseases in the Western world and can be more effective than medication and surgery. Even after years of eating the standard American diet, it’s possible to reduce chronic disease risk by eating healthier.

Research studies have found potential links between the standard American diet and risks of the following diseases and conditions:


Image Credit: RachelC.Photography / Flickr. This image has been modified.

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