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To verify the previously untested assumption that eating more salad enhances vegetable intake and determine if salad consumption is in fact associated with higher vegetable intake and greater adherence to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommendations.
Individuals were classified as salad reporters or non-reporters based upon whether they consumed a salad composed primarily of raw vegetables on the intake day. Regression analyses were applied to calculate adjusted estimates of food group intakes and assess the likelihood of meeting Healthy US-Style Food Pattern recommendations by salad reporting status.
Cross-sectional analysis of data collected in 2011–2014 in What We Eat in America, the dietary intake component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
US adults (n 9678) aged ≥20 years (excluding pregnant and lactating women).
On the intake day, 23 % of adults ate salad. The proportion of individuals reporting salad varied by sex, age, race, income, education and smoking status (P<0·001). Compared with non-reporters, salad reporters consumed significantly larger quantities of vegetables (total, dark green, red/orange and other), which translated into a two- to threefold greater likelihood of meeting recommendations for these food groups. More modest associations were observed between salad consumption and differences in intake and likelihood of meeting recommendations for protein foods (total and seafood), oils and refined grains.
Study results confirm the DGA message that incorporating more salads in the diet is one effective strategy (among others, such as eating more cooked vegetables) to augment vegetable consumption and adherence to dietary recommendations concerning vegetables.
Estimates of fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption vary depending on intake definition, which may be determined by research purpose. Researchers have used two methods to evaluate intake: epidemiological and behavioural. The present study describes FV intake by adults using epidemiological v. behavioural approaches.
One-day dietary intake data from What We Eat In America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009–2012 were used. Sample weights were used to produce nationally representative estimates. FV intake (in cup-equivalents (CE)) was estimated using the Food Patterns Equivalents Database. The epidemiological method considered all FV after disaggregating foods and beverages. The behavioural method included foods that provided at least 0·2 CE FV per 100 g, and excluded sources high in fat, added sugar and Na.
Nationally representative survey of the US population.
Adults (n 10 563) aged ≥20 years.
For epidemiological v. behavioural, fruit intake was 1·1 v. 1·0 CE for males and 1·0 v. 0·9 CE for females. Vegetable intake was 1·8 v. 1·1 CE for males and 1·5 v. 1·0 CE for females.
The definition of FV intake affects estimates of consumption by the population and is an important consideration when planning and comparing research studies. The method used should align with research goals to assure accurate interpretation and validity of results.
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