Fruits and Vegetables Versus Vegetables and Fruits: Rhyme and Reason for Word Order in Health Messages.Am J Lifestyle Med 2019 May-Jun; 13(3):224-234AJ
Both vegetable and fruit consumption contribute to wellness and disease prevention. Most dietary health messages promote both together and position the word "fruits" before "vegetables." We examined the word order of the commonly used phrase "fruits and vegetables" through linguistics, psychology, botany, nutrition, health outcomes, and current US intake to determine if the common word order best presents these two foods in health messaging. By comparing the 10 most commonly consumed vegetables versus fruits, we found that vegetables scored higher on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index and contained fewer calories and more fiber than fruits. Among the "nutrients of public concern" listed in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we determined that vegetables are better sources of these nutrients than fruits, although fruits scored higher in antioxidant content. In observational cohort studies, vegetable and fruit consumption was found to be associated with decreased mortality. Finally, daily intakes of both vegetables and fruits are lower than recommended, but the discrepancy is larger for vegetables-especially among children-suggesting a greater imperative to promote vegetables. For these reasons, future health messages promoting both together should intentionally put "vegetables" first to promote intake and emphasize their importance regarding contribution to health.