Recapturing vegetable phytonutrients for healthier diets
In 2017, WorldVeg analyzed nutritional traits of 55 traditional vegetable species commonly consumed by the Ami, a Taiwan aboriginal group, before the current/modern food system became dominant over the past 50 years. The Ami traditionally collected edible plants from the wild in eastern Taiwan, a region with diverse plant communities. Phytonutrient values of Ami traditional vegetables were compared with the phytonutrient contents previously measured by our laboratory for 200 species of tropical Asian and African traditional vegetables, and 30 commonly consumed vegetables in Taiwan. The vegetable crops commonly consumed in Taiwan today tend to have less dry matter and high sugar content, reflecting consumer taste preferences. These crops are also lower in nutrients such as protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, minerals, and antioxidants—implying that there may be fewer nutrients available from vegetables grown in modern food systems.