We all know that we should be eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and we all know about the many health benefits, including reductions in diabetes, cardiovascular events (heart disease, heart attack, stroke), and even some cancers. Only 11 percent of the U.S. population currently meets the daily targets for vegetable consumption, while just 20 percent meet the guideline for fruit, according to researchers at Yale. Asking people—especially kids—whether they’ve eaten what they’re supposed to produces notoriously inaccurate results. But researchers have discovered that a special laser that measure a compound in the skin can tell exactly how much we’re getting.
Depending on your age, sex, and level of physical activity, we should eat anywhere from 1 cup to 3 cups of fruits and veggies every day. Visually, that’s about half of everything on our plate at every meal. And most of us tend to greatly overestimate how much we’re actually eating. The compound being measured is called carotenoids, and levels vary according to fruit and vegetable intake.