Dramatic drop in nutrient content in fruit and vegetables

A study of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Texas, Austin, conducted by Professor Donald Dave and published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition has revealed the differences in nutritional content for 43 different fruits and vegetables in 1950 and 1999.

Researchers found a dramatic reduction in the amounts of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron and riboflavin (vitamin B2) over the past 50 years. "There may be reductions in other nutrients," says Dave, "such as magnesium, zinc and vitamins B-6 and E; however, these nutrients were not monitored in 1950, so we have no data."

Another glaring example of what Dave's team has revealed is the nutritional deterioration of broccoli. The demand for large heads (a goal of scientists for many years) has resulted in reduced concentration of minerals. For Dave and his group, agricultural practices to improve yields and resistance to diseases and pests are responsible for the quality degradation of nutrients in fruit and vegetables.

Recent studies comparing the mineral content of soils in the U.S. with those of 100 years ago have found that 85% of their mineral contents have been exhausted. At this rate, it is estimated that there will only be fertile soils for another 48 years.

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