A pioneering project to make our green vegetables even better for us has been launched by scientists at The University of Nottingham. The research will underpin future technological developments in agriculture that could help fight a looming food security crisis.
‘Greens’ like cabbages and broccoli are a well-known part of a healthy diet but they don’t contain as large an amount of key minerals as they might, according to the lead scientist on the project, Associate Professor of Plant Nutrition, Dr Martin Broadley. He’s secured funding to carry out new research into ‘biofortifying’ cabbages and their relatives (Brassica) to boost dietary intakes of calcium and magnesium…
All of us require 22 essential minerals to live. These minerals can be supplied by a balanced and varied diet. Yet billions of people worldwide consume insufficient minerals, including calcium and magnesium. Since most calcium is stored in bones, calcium-deficient diets can reduce bone strength and increase fracture-risks and osteoporosis. In developing countries, calcium deficiency can also cause rickets. Magnesium deficiency is linked to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and pre-eclampsia in pregnancy.
In the UK, vegetables —excluding potatoes —provide less than one tenth of our calcium and magnesium intakes. It’s thought a relatively modest increase in the concentration of these minerals in green leafy vegetables would have a significant beneficial effect on our health. Dr Broadley says this is likely to be achievable by improving fertilizers and breeding programmes…
Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive said: “Taking social and economic issues aside, the challenge we face is to produce enough nutrition for a growing global population using limited resources and without significant negative impact to the environment. There are a number of ways to approach this through bioscience research, one of which is to actually aim to increase the nutritional value of the food we are producing. Dr Broadley’s project is a good example of where UK bioscience research is taking on this challenge and his success in enriching essential minerals in cabbages, broccoli, Chinese cabbage and pak choi will be an important step in insuring against a future food security crisis.”
I love green leafy veggies, anyway. Making them even healthier for us is OK by me.