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Between 1940 and today, nutrient levels in fruit and vegetables in the UK have fallen by 50%, study finds

Compared between 1940 and today, the amount of key nutrients in fruit and vegetables available in the UK has fallen by around 50%, a study has found.

Depletion was seen in magnesium, iron, sodium, and copper levels. It also means UK citizens are at risk of facing malnutrition, experts have warned.

The adoption of high-yielding fruit and vegetable varieties, industrial agriculture and a greater reliance on imported produce appear to have led to this situation, according to reports.

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In order to arrive at these results, researchers at Coventry University checked the nutrients in around 28 types of fruit and vegetables. These include potatoes and bananas, which were available in the UK in 1940, 1991 and 2019.

Copper levels fell by 49%, iron by 51% and sodium by 52%, according to the analysis published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.

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The amount of potassium decreased by 5%, magnesium by 10% and calcium by 2.5%.

A sufficiently varied diet is not eaten by “many people”. Teenagers also have poor diets, the researchers said.

Nowadays, several fruits and vegetables have been bred to increase productivity and profitability and “this focus on yield has largely ignored any implications for nutritional quality,” the researchers said.

(With agency contributions)

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