Newswise — Aug 8, 2019 – Plants-based foods are a major part of human nutrition and health. Human nutrients can be put into two main categories: macronutrients and micronutrients. The key to maintaining good health is to balance macronutrients, and to have a good, steady supply of micronutrients. This information is easy to find on processed foods in the grocery store, but it usually missing from bulk and fresh foods like grains, vegetables, and fruits.

The August 7th Sustainable, Secure Food blog explores food crops by the type of nutrition they provide.  According to blogger Adam Heuberger, Colorado State University, “human nutrition is based on our need to get our energy from food and to get enough minerals and vitamins to function.”

Carbohydrates: Plants make three main types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches, and fibers. Cereal crops such as rice, wheat, corn, oats, barley, sorghum, millet and the legume crops green peas and cowpea are all good sources of starch. Plantains are a fruit with a good starch. Some root and tuber crops pack their starch below the ground: potato, sweet potato, yams, cassava, and parsnips.

Fibers: Plants will turn carbohydrates into fibers during their metabolic processes. Fiber is important to gut health. Fibers are found in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains cereals.

Fats: Because too much carbohydrate in the diet is bad, it’s important to balance our much-needed energy with fat. This fat can come from the plant itself, or can be processed into oils for cooking. The most important crops for cooking oils are peanut, soybean, canola, sunflower, and coconuts.  

Protein: Dietary protein is our major source of amino acids that we need to maintain good health. Balancing your diet with plant protein from different crops is important – both for your healthy, and for the planet. Good sources of plant protein are beans, lentils, soybeans, green peas, cowpeas, quinoa and peanuts.

Micronutrients: The two types of micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. While fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of both vitamins and minerals, whole grain cereals, legumes, and roots and tubers are also good.

“Balance is the most important part of nutrition, as overdoing one nutrient is usually at the expense of another,” says Heuberger. “Different plants produce different types of carbohydrates, fats, and protein, vitamins, and minerals. This is why including many different types of food crops in the diet is a great for health.” Read the full blog here:

This blog is sponsored and written by members of the American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America. Our members are researchers and trained, certified professionals in the areas of growing our world’s food supply, while protecting our environment. They work at universities, government research facilities, and private businesses across the United States and the world.

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