Black men eat too few fruits, veggies

With schedules that consist of meetings, practice, work and classes, it is easy to neglect eating habits.

On the way home from a meeting or on the way to class, stopping by McDonald’s or Miami Sub’s for a quick bite to eat does not sound like it would do any harm right? Wrong.

Lifestyle factors such as diet are linked with an increased risk for diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, heart diseases and diabetes that disproportionately affect black men.

According to a survey conducted by the National Cancer Institute, black men ages 35-50 eat about 3.5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The recommended amount is five to nine servings a day.

Black men eat fewer fruits and vegetables than any other group and are least educated on the recommended five servings per day.

The National 5 A Day program started in 1991 as a way of getting Americans to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day to increase better health.

Recently, in an effort to save lives, the program is targeting black men to encourage them to adhere to the recommended five servings per day.

“I am aware of the ‘5 A Day program’, but sometimes I don’t have time to follow it,” said Cory Holiday, 22, a senior criminal justice student from Tallahassee.

“When I work out consistently, I maintain a good diet, but other than that, I don’t.”

Time is a key factor when understanding why most men don’t eat the recommended five servings a day.

Michael Scott, 20, a junior music education student from Miami is a drum major in the Marching 100, as well as a member of Strikers Dance Troupe. Eating right is important, especially when actively involved in various activities, but even he acknowledges that time plays a big part in a good diet.

“Sometimes when things get real busy, I don’t eat at all,” he said. “It doesn’t affect me now, but it could possibly affect my performance in the long run. I usually eat two meals a day. Sometimes its fast food, but when I do cook, I don’t omit the vegetables.”

The National Cancer Institute also notes that black men have a greater chance of developing chronic diseases such as prostate cancer as opposed to Latino, Caucasian and Native American men.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an improved diet, which includes more fruits and vegetables, can reduce the occurrence of most diseases.

It is also estimated that 300,000 deaths each year are the result of poor nutrition and lack of physical activity among black men.

Researchers suggest that deep orange and bright yellow fruits and vegetables be added to diets. These fruits and vegetables are said to have bioflavonoids in them that helps the body fight disease.

“Since bioflavonoids and Vitamin C are powerful antioxidants that work as a team, it’s important to get these nutrients from the whole foods that provide them,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, director of NCI’s 5 A Day for Better Health Program in a press release.

“By eating fruits and vegetables, you will benefit from the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that it has to offer. Keep in mind, men should strive to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.”