Findings from What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2011-2014 support salad consumption as an effective strategy for improving adherence to dietary recommendations

Public Health Nutr. 2019 Apr;22(6):976-987. doi: 10.1017/S1368980018003695. Epub 2019 Feb 15.


Objective: 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.

Design: 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.

Setting: 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.ParticipantsUS adults (n 9678) aged ≥20 years (excluding pregnant and lactating women).

Results: 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.

Conclusions: 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.

Keywords: Adults; Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations; Food component intakes; National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; Salad.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / methods*
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Nutrition Surveys / methods*
  • Nutrition Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Salads / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States
  • Young Adult