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Healthy Foods

Potatoes and tomatoes are more than half of veggie consumption in America

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Potatoes and tomatoes make up half of all the vegetables Americans eat–and are often eaten in the form of french fries and ketchup. (iStock)

For some, french fries and ketchup are a favorite combination, but according to federal data, french fries and ketchup are America’s favorite veggies.

What, you say?  French fries and ketchup aren’t veggies.  But researchers at the Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service say potatoes and tomatoes make up half of all the vegetables Americans eat–and are often consumed in the form of french fries and ketchup or other processed foods.  

"Americans consume a lot of a certain two vegetables, instead of having a good variety," Jeanine Bentley, an analyst at the Department of Agriculture and author of a new report told NPR.

In 2013, 115.6 pounds per person of white potatoes were available for Americans to eat — a whopping two-thirds of which were consumed in the form of french fries, potato chips and other frozen or processed potato products, the report indicated.

The report stated that tomatoes accounted for 22 percent of the vegetable consumption, of which 65.9 pounds per person of tomatoes were processed in a variety of unhealthy ways — including canned tomatoes, tomato sauces, ketchups, or were used as an ingredient in processed stews and soups.

"Researchers found that instead of eating vegetables in their simple, unadorned state, Americans often eat vegetables prepared in ways that add calories and sodium and remove dietary fiber," Bentley said.

The upside is that people are eating a wider variety of vegetables than they were 40 years ago, and fresh lettuce was the third most consumed at 25.5 pounds per person, according to the report.

But overwhelming, people keep coming back to the fat and sugar laden processed foods which health experts warn actually deprives people of a variety of nutrients.