Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Modern Fruits and Vegetables Are Less Nutritious

Modern Fruits and Vegetables Are Less Nutritious

By Dr. Mercola

This is an area that has absolutely captured my passion and attention. The last six months I have been devouring as much information as I can about high-performance agriculture using natural methods.

As you know, I have been one of the leaders in warning of the dangers of GMOs but I am now convinced that we need to offer the world a safe and superior alternative to GMOs. I am convinced that this is not only possible, but also less expensive both in the short and long term.

Part of the reason for this is that the nutritional content of the conventional food supply has been rapidly declining for the last 50 years as a natural consequence of increasingly poor soil conditions on modern farms, and it is getting worse.

But food has actually been getting gradually less nutritious for far longer than that, as a direct result of humans’ preferences for sweeter, starchier and less colorful fruits and vegetables.

As written in the New York Times:1

“Unwittingly, we have been stripping phytonutrients from our diet since we stopped foraging for wild plants some 10,000 years ago and became farmers.”

I believe that natural high-performance agriculture techniques such as optimizing soil microbiology through composting, and mineral balancing and the use of sea solids in the soil are exciting alternatives, and I plan on updating you soon on this project.

Sweeter Plants Were More Appealing to Ancient Farmers…

Ancient wild plants provided an astounding level of phytonutrients that are largely absent from our modern cultivated fruits and veggies. For instance, wild dandelions contain seven times more phytonutrients than spinach, and purple potatoes native to Peru contain 28 times more anthocyanins than commonly consumed russet potatoes.2

In general, you can identify the healthiest superfoods simply by looks and taste: the more bitter and the more colorful a natural food is, the more potent antioxidants and other phytochemicals it’s likely to contain.

But disease-fighting bitter or astringent foods, such as arugula, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts, are often avoided by consumers today,3 and they were similarly avoided by our ancient ancestors as access to sweeter foods increased. So, too, was the case with colorful foods, which have slowly fallen out of favor in many cases.

The evolution of corn provides one of the most telling examples. The richly colored “Indian corn” now mostly used for holiday decorating was once widely consumed, and contained far more disease-fighting antioxidants and less sugar than today’s popular pale yellow sweet corn.

The New York Times explains it well:

“Throughout the ages, our farming ancestors have chosen the least bitter plants to grow in their gardens. It is now known that many of the most beneficial phytonutrients have a bitter, sour or astringent taste. Second, early farmers favored plants that were relatively low in fiber and high in sugar, starch and oil.

These energy-dense plants were pleasurable to eat and provided the calories needed to fuel a strenuous lifestyle. The more palatable our fruits and vegetables became, however, the less advantageous they were for our health.”

Even Fruits Are Sweeter and Less Nutritious Than They Used to Be

The wild fruits consumed by our ancestors were smaller and resembled most closely what a blueberry is today. Modern cultivated fruits are much larger, which means they have a lot more sweet pulp inside and less skin. The sweet "pulp" or "flesh" of the fruit is where most of the fructose is, whereas the skin holds the antioxidants. CONTINUE ARTICLE