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Humans Need To Bring Back Phytonutrients Into Produce They Eat

May 25, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
The produce that humans eat today has relatively low levels of phytonutrients, according to researchers who have used new technology to compare phytonutrient content of wild plants with agricultural products in supermarkets in the past 15 years. Phytonutrients are potentially helpful in the fight against cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and dementia. This loss of phytonutrients from produce has led some researchers to wonder if people who foraged for wild foods were healthier than today's humans. Although ancient humans, who died mainly from injury and infections, did not live nearly as long as today's humans, they were also much less prone to dying from degenerative diseases. European settlers' role in the transformation of the multi-variety Native American corn into today's yellow sweet corn highlights how farming practices played a role in the loss of phytonutrients from produce.
JO ROBINSON, "Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food", The New York Times, May 25, 2013, © The New York Times Company
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