Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Modern Fruits and Vegetables are Growing Less Nutritious

From: Nutrient content in veggies declines amid bigger yields
Scripps Howard News Service

"[D]ata collected by the federal government shows that the nutritional content of America's vegetables and fruits has declined over the last 50 years - in some cases dramatically. ..."


Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas in Austin found significant declines in six major nutrients in fruits and vegetables tracked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1950 to 1999 and said that the nutrient decline "has not been widely noticed" since an agriculture scientist first revealed the decline in a 1981 research paper comparing garden crops grown in the US with those in England.

Davis suspects the trend in agriculture toward crops that grow the fastest and largest is a reason for the decline. The faster-growing plants have less time to acquire nutrients by photosynthesis or from the soil. Davis said his study shows that people need to eat even more vegetables and fruits to make up for the nutrient decline. Trying to find older varieties of fruits and vegetables, perhaps from small organic farms, would also seem to make sense.

Davis' findings confirm earlier British and American research which found that vegetables are becoming less nutritious and fruits more sweet. The level of nutrients in foods is critical because people are eating less fresh fruits and vegetables and nutrient deficiencies appear to be a major problem. The British National Diet and Nutrition Survey revealed that "the blood plasma of a quarter of British men and a third of women was iron-deficient and that many people may also be deficient in nutrients such as selenium and vitamins C and B12." (It’s not the fruit it used to be..., Jonathan Leake, Environment Editor, The Sunday Times, 8 February 2004, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-993250,00.html as of 2/28/06)

When it comes to fruit and vegetable varieties and even breeds of animals, older tends to be better. The closer a food is to its ancient wild origins, the healthier it tends to be. As a general rule, new is not improved when it comes to food.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Study Review Debunks Soy Health Claims

The Associated Press
Jan. 23, 2006

DALLAS - Veggie burgers and tofu might not be so great at warding off heart disease after all.

An American Heart Association committee reviewed a decade of studies on soy’s benefits and came up with results that are now casting doubt on the health claim that soy-based foods and supplements significantly lower cholesterol.


The panel also found that neither soy nor the soy component isoflavone reduced symptoms of menopause, such as “hot flashes,” and that isoflavones don’t help prevent breast, uterine or prostate cancer. Results were mixed on whether soy prevented postmenopausal bone loss.

Based on its findings, the committee said it would not recommend using isoflavone supplements in food or pills. It concluded that soy-containing foods and supplements did not significantly lower cholesterol, and it said so in a statement recently published in the journal Circulation.


My take:

This news regarding the lack of health benefits for soy, which is a legume, will be no surprise to paleolithic nutrition experts like Dr. Loren Cordain. He stated in his book, The Paleo Diet:

"My research group and I have recently published a paper in the British Journal of Nutrition describing our theory that dairy foods, grains, legumes, and yeast may be partly to blame for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases in genetically susceptible people. Legumes and grains contain substances called "lectins." These substances are a mixture of protein and carbohydrates that plants have evolved to ward off insect predators. Because of the carbohydrate portion of the lectin molecule, lectins can bind with almost any tissue in our bodies and wreak havoc-if they can enter the body, that is."

While there is disagreement over when legumes were first eaten in significant quantities by humans, there is general agreement that they were not a staple food during the Paleolithic era or before. Those who know and understand the history of the human diet know that foods like legumes that were not a major part of that diet for most of human history can predict that these foods will not found to be healthy and are likely to be eventually confirmed by studies to be somewhat or significantly unhealthy.