Are vegetables less nutritious now than 50 years ago?

Are vegetables less nutritious now than 50 years ago?

Science / Sustainable Investing

There is evidence to suggest that the vitamin and nutritional content of fruit and vegetables declined over the last 50 years. Several studies have shown that the levels of certain vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables have decreased significantly since the early 20th century.

One reason for this decline believed to be the result of modern agricultural practices. Over the last century, agricultural methods have focused primarily on increasing crop yields, rather than on maintaining soil health and nutrient levels. As a result, the soil in which fruits and vegetables become grown has become depleted of essential nutrients, such as magnesium, iron, and zinc.

Another factor contributing to the decline in nutritional content of fruit is believed to be changes in the types of fruits that are grown and consumed. Many fruits popular today, such as bananas and apples, have become selectively bred for traits such as sweetness and color, rather than nutritional value.

Furthermore, modern food storage and transportation practices may also contribute to the decline in nutritional content.

Fruits and vegetables shipped long distances and stored for extended periods of time can lose significant amounts of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C.

 A 2004 US study found important nutrients in some garden crops are up to 38% lower than there were at the middle of the 20th Century.


Overall, while fruits and vegetables remain an important part of a healthy diet. Moreover, it becomes important to keep aware of the potential decline in nutritional content. And to take steps to ensure a balanced intake of essential vitamins and minerals through a variety of sources. Eating a diverse range of fruits and vegetables, including locally grown and organic produce, can help to maximize nutrient intake.

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Are vegetables less nutritious now than 50 years ago?