You know the old saying: The more you know, the less you know.
But a new study by University of California, Davis, scientists suggests that, in fact, you should know more about your plants and vegetables.
For example, you can probably figure out which varieties of lettuce are the most profitable, says co-author Daniel Ehrlich, a doctoral student in the department of agronomy and food science at UC Davis.
And you can’t know all the answers to those questions.
What you can do, he says, is figure out what makes a plant edible and what’s toxic.
The idea is to find out which crops are safe and which ones are dangerous.
Ehrliches research team analyzed the nutritional profiles of plants and their metabolites in a database of more than 4.5 million plants, and found that the plants’ metabolisms are influenced by environmental factors like pH and temperature, the types of soils they grow in, and whether they’re grown indoors or outdoors.
Plants with higher pH have higher levels of compounds that can cause toxicity, while plants with higher temperatures have higher concentrations of compounds.
The team also found that plants’ metabolic profiles can change over time, meaning that some varieties of plants have more favorable metabolic profiles than others.
So, for example, plants that grow in areas that are cooler tend to have more positive metabolic profiles, and plants that are grown in warmer areas have more negative ones.
These results support previous studies that have found that environmental factors can influence the metabolic profiles of different plant species, Ehrlich says.
“The idea is that you want to know what you’re eating, not what you think you’re ingesting.”
Plant chemistry and the human body’s own metabolic processes also play a role in the health of our food.
“If we can understand what makes the best plant for a particular type of food, we can then figure out how to optimize the food to meet that person’s nutritional needs,” says Ehrleich.
For the study, the researchers collected plant data from the USDA’s National Plant Identification Database (NPD) and applied an algorithm to analyze the metabolic profile of plants based on the NPD data.
“It’s not like you’re cooking or chopping up and studying every plant,” says the paper’s lead author, graduate student Daniel A. Hsu, a Ph.
D. candidate in plant biology.
“Instead, we were looking at the chemistry of the food and how it interacts with other plants.”
Hsu and his colleagues analyzed the metabolomics of more 7,500 different plant varieties and used an algorithm based on that analysis to identify which ones had the highest concentrations of various plant metabolites, such as phenols, glycosides, and acetic acids.
They then compared these metabolomics to information on a database called the Western U.S. Diet (WUDS), which included information about how people in the West were eating in general.
“We used this data to predict how many people in Western U:D.
were consuming the most nutrient-dense foods,” Hsu says.
HSu says that, although the results showed that the majority of Western U.:D.
consumed nutrient-rich foods, they didn’t provide any insight into the types and amounts of nutrients they consumed.
The results suggest that Western U., D.C., and the West may be eating different types of food depending on which regions they live in, Hsu adds.
But he says that this is not necessarily a bad thing.
“There is a correlation between nutrient density and nutrient content,” he says.
For instance, he explains, some nutrients have a higher concentration of nitrogen in plant foods, while others have lower concentrations of nitrogen.
“That means the more nutrient density you have in the plant, the more nitrogen you need.”
In other words, nutrient density can be a good thing or a bad one.
In fact, Hsue says that some foods may be more nutrient-poor in Western Europe than in North America, and vice versa.
But overall, there are good and bad trends in Western diets.
For one, he adds, the Western diet has become more nutrient dense, with a higher percentage of fruits and vegetables and fewer legumes.
Hsues analysis also showed that there are more plant-based foods in the Western dietary pattern.
This includes a lot of plant foods such as beans, peas, and lentils, which are often lower in nutrients, Hsiues says.
In addition, the authors found that Western European farmers are eating more nuts and seeds, but the researchers say there is still room for improvement in this area.
Hsiue notes that the data also showed a significant correlation between plant- and animal-based diets.
“Animal products are the food that we eat and are part of the diet, whereas plants are part the diet,” he explains.
“When you eat plant foods like nuts and beans, you are also getting a lot more