© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article is a revision of the previous edition, article by A E Bender, pp. 902-906, © 1999, Elsevier Ltd.
Fruits and vegetables have considerable potential as a source of nutrients but the amounts eaten vary enormously both within and between countries. Some 3000 species are known to be edible and there are said to be more than 1500 species of wild tropical plants. In the foreword to Traditional Plant Foods, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, it is stated that ''rural Africa is rich in nutritious plant foods but in recent decades social and economic changes have militated against their propagation and use.'' This is because the promotion of major cereals has led to the eclipse of traditional plants. Furthermore, in developing regions many plant foods are regarded as being 'merely' children's food or poor man's food. Indeed, more fruits and vegetables are eaten in industrialized countries where there is an abundance of foods of all kinds than in developing countries, where any addition to the food supply is valuable.
For example, the average daily intake of fruit and vegetables in some underdeveloped regions is only
10-12 g per day compared with the recommendation in Western countries of five (and even up to nine) helpings (at least 375 g per day).
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