Declining Nutrition of Fruits and Vegetables
Analysis Indicates Many Minerals Less Abundant
Results from research into Americans' diet habits haven't been good. We're
consuming more calories than ever, many of them from unsaturated fats, and as a
getting fatter and unhealthier.
But if a person should decide to improve his or her diet and eat the foods
doctors and dieticians recommend for better health, would it be enough?
Actually, there is strong evidence that the fruits and vegetables available to
most people today don't contain the nutritional value they had about 40 or 50
2004, a University of Texas research team headed by biochemist Donald Davis,
Ph.D., analyzed a U.S. Department of Agriculture report on 43 common garden
fruits and vegetables and found that almost half of the substances containing
minerals important to good health had lost some nutritional value.
Davis said in a university news release that at first, his team didn't evaluate
individual fruits and vegetables but found the nutritional declines in the
plants as a group. "Considered as a group, we found that six out of 13 nutrients
showed apparently reliable declines between 1950 and 1999," he said.
The nutrients Davis's team identified as losing at least some measurable value
were protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and ascorbic acid. The
declines ranged from 6 percent for protein to 38 percent for riboflavin.
Specific Produce Identified as Losing Nutritional Value
Why did this happen? As best as Davis can determine, the nutritional value in
some produce was diluted through faster methods major agro-farm companies
employed to grow high-yield crops to meet consumer demand.
Davis continued studying what he termed the "genetic dilution effect" and was
able to identify specific high-yield crops that had declines in nutrients.
"According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data, calcium
content of broccoli which averaged 12.9 milligrams per gram of dry weight in
1950, had declined to only 4.4 mg/g dry weight in 2003."
And in a study of much longer duration, Davis reported that in wheat and barley
crops, protein concentrations declined by 30 to 50 percent between the years
1938 and 1990.
Tips to Preserve the Nutrients in Your Produce
Cooked vs Raw: High heat and water can destroy up to 30 percent of
nutrients found in raw fruits and vegetables. Sautéing, steaming or even
microwaving healthy produce can minimize nutrient loss. In fact, in some
instances, cooking increases the
potency of nutrients by aiding in the break down the cell walls of the plant.
Cooking increases the availability of antioxidants typically found in carrots,
spinach and tomatoes.
Fresh vs Frozen: When it comes to superior taste and nutrition, fresh
fruits and vegetables from the
garden are always best. But by the time your "fresh" produce reaches your local
grocer, it has had plenty of exposure to air, heat and light -- enough time to
diminish its nutritional value. Frozen produce, which is usually flash-frozen
quickly after picking, can be just as nutritious and can last for about a year.
Canned produce is the least favorable option as most of the produce vitamin
content is destroyed by high temperatures used in processing or lost in the
water in the can. Canned fruit packed in in high calorie syrup should also be
helps us bridge the gap between what we do eat and what we need to eat, in terms
of daily fruit and vegetable intake. Juice Plus+ is
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