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Matters of Taste

Bred to be tastier, modern produce has lost much of its healthy green goodness.

A table spread with fresh vegetables and herbs.

Photo: Matt Hannon (Flickr)

Yums from a Community Supported Agriculture box.

Everyone knows that eating lots of fruits and vegetables is important to good health. Unfortunately, many of the fruits and vegetables we eat today have nearly lost all of their health-generating properties.

Nutritional Facts

One reason eating fruits and vegetables is good for your body is that they contain phytonutrients—the plant compounds that reduce the risk of diseases such as cancer, dementia and diabetes. Most of the produce sold today is quite low in phytonutrients compared to wild plants.

For example, wild dandelions have seven times more phytonutrients than spinach! Though it’s called a superfood, spinach has been sapped of its super powers. Researchers say our taste buds are to blame.

Tasty Tradeoffs

Early farmers preferred fruits and vegetables that were less bitter, and many phytonutrients are naturally bitter and sour tasting. These farmers also preferred plants that were high in sugar, oil and starch because they provided people with the energy needed to work hard in the fields. The plants became tastier and higher in calories, and also much less healthful.

So eating lots of fruits and veggies isn’t enough; you need to choose nutritious produce. Here’s a start to packing green goodness back into your diet. Green onions contain lots more phytonutrients than regular onions, and arugula is the most healthful of all the lettuces. Fresh herbs also do the trick—they add tons of aroma and raw power to your meal.

Incorporate these ingredients into your menu and you’ll soon realize nutrition doesn’t have to trade off with flavor. Because eating fresh and eating right are matters of good taste.

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