Efforts Underway to Make Vegetables Even More Nutritious and Flavorful

Articles
July 07, 2009

Efforts Underway to Make Vegetables Even More Nutritious and Flavorful

Eat your vegetables. Moms the world over have been repeated this phrase for decades, maybe longer. It turns out that they do so with good reason. Vegetables are good for us. But what makes vegetables such a beneficial component to our overall diets? According to the United States Department of Agriculture, people who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. For example, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet may reduce risk for stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, as well as type 2 diabetes. In addition, the American Cancer Society says that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can help reduce your cancer risk. That's one reason the group recommends eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Vegetables also provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body. Most vegetables naturally are low in both calories and fat. No vegetables contain any cholesterol. They are important sources of many nutrients. The list of nutrients that vegetables can provide include potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C. However, studies suggest that Americans don’t eat as many vegetables as part of their daily diets as they probably should. According to the General Mills 2009 Corporate Responsibility Report, just 12 percent of Americans eat the recommended level of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Eat your vegetables.  Moms the world over have been repeated this phrase for decades, maybe longer. It turns out that they do so with good reason.  Vegetables are good for us.

But what makes vegetables such a beneficial component to our overall diets?  According to the United States Department of Agriculture, people who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. For example, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet may reduce risk for stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, as well as type 2 diabetes. In addition, the American Cancer Society says that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can help reduce your cancer risk. That's one reason the group recommends eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

Vegetables also provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.  Most vegetables naturally are low in both calories and fat.  No vegetables contain any cholesterol.  They are important sources of many nutrients.  The list of nutrients that vegetables can provide include potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C.

However, studies suggest that Americans don’t eat as many vegetables as part of their daily diets as they probably should.  According to the General Mills 2009 Corporate Responsibility Report, just 12 percent of Americans eat the recommended level of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

That may change as the result of continuing innovation in vegetable breeding.  Red, yellow and white carrots, sweeter sweet corn and tiny bell peppers are all products being brought to the table from the imagination of breeders that make vegetables more fun and tasty for both the eye and the palate.  In addition, vegetable varieties from around the world are gaining acceptance across different cultures. 

Plant breeders work to find interesting plant characteristics that exist naturally and bring those characteristics together through plant breeding.  You may have first learned about plant breeding in school through the Augustinian monk in Austria Gregor Mendel and his pea plant experiments.  These experiments formed the basis for the laws of heredity. Breeding is basically a process to mate different plants and then select the improved offspring. The process is repeated time and time again to create new and interesting vegetables, fruits and flowers.

A recently announced collaboration between Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. and Monsanto Company, a seed company, is yet another illustration of ongoing efforts to put plant breeding to work for consumers. The two companies will work together to identify and develop unique varieties of broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and spinach for the North American market.  Dole and Monsanto will focus on offering consumers choices that have improved nutrition, flavor, color, texture, taste and aroma.

Let’s hope this works to enable more choice of tasty and nutritious vegetables that impact all our diets in a positive way.