Fruit and veg sweeter but ‘less nutritious’ due to modern farming practises

Mancunians are being urged to chomp down on more fruit and veg following a survey which revealed that only three in ten are eating the recommended five portions a day.

Further research now has scientists questioning whether fruits and vegetables are losing their magic.

Do the wonder products still have the same nutritional value than they did in the past?

Many people started looking at fruits and vegetables differently after the University of Texas published a study in 2004.

The landmark study revealed nutrition in vegetables has diminished over the past few decades among 43 types of produce.

According to the study some of the vegetables found on our supermarkets today had 5% – 40% fewer nutrients than the produce on the shelves in the 1950s.

Nutrients such as protein, calcium, iron and vitamin C were lower in many veg.

The study’s author Donald Davis and his fellow researchers claimed new agricultural practices to be behind the fall.

Agriculture has become transfixed in improving traits such as the size and growth rate of the vegetables and fruits, instead of considering the nutritional value of the produce.

Evidence for less nutritious vegetables and fruits quickly began to build up.

A Kushi Institute analysis looked at nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 and found 12 vegetables had declining calcium levels.

In this study, calcium levels had dropped by 27%, with declines recorded also in iron, vitamin A and vitamin C levels.

British studies have also repeated these results, with one study claiming you’d have to eat around eight oranges to get the same amount of vitamin A as your grandparents got from a single orange.

But what makes our modern agriculture techniques such devastating for nutrients?

Most of it is down to soil conditions.

In our quest to create the biggest and the brightest produce, we’ve started adding additives on to our soil.

Farmers use different chemicals to boost growth rates and to keep pests away.

Unfortunately these chemicals, while not necessarily being dangerous, have meant the nutrient levels are compromised.

Our vegetables and fruits grow so fast and focus most of their energy on being big and colourful that they don’t have time to create the same nutritional levels as they used to do.

We’ve also developed quite a sweet tooth. Not only do we love our chocolates and sweets, but also our taste buds with vegetables and fruits have changed.

The problem is an increase in sweeter fruits and vegetables mean they aren’t as healthy anymore.

The Telegraph reported researchers’ warnings how creating sweeter and less bittersweet fruits and vegetables are leaving them less nutritious.

Jed Fahey, a molecular scientist at Johns Hopkins University, was quoted stating, “Yes, you could survive on de-bittered fruits and vegetables, and they would help maintain life, but not good health.”

While we might have lost some of the nutrients from the previous decades, fruits and vegetables are still the best way to get that vitamin fix.

Studies have repeatedly shown that eating a minimum of 400g or five 80g portions of fruit and vegetables can lower serious health problems.

You’ll be able to reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as maintain a healthy weight.

Whenever you can try picking organic produce, as they are often grown in nutritious soil and use fewer preservatives.

If you are thinking of buying them online, you might want to take a look at VoucherBin for discount codes.

If you want to pick the healthiest vegetables and fruits, get your five a day by eating:

  • Blueberries, oranges, kiwis and papayas
  • Kale, spinach, carrots, broccoli and peas

In the spirit of the season, you should also add plenty of Brussels sprouts to your shopping list.

While they are less bittersweet these days, they continue to be an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K.

Image courtesy of Garry Knight, via Flickr, with thanks

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