That a single meal contains about 20 species is impressive, given that some human societies those that are largely unaffected by current globalization trend commonly include only 50 to 100 plant species in their entire diet, the paper states.
Vamosi says the study raises myriad questions about the diversity and nutritional aspects of the human diet that will be the subject of future investigations.
Certainly, including many fruits and vegetables in your diet is something that has been encouraged by nutritionists for some time. However eating carrots and celery, for example, provides you with nutrients from the same plant family, as do apples, pears, apricots, peaches, raspberries and blackberries. Indeed broccoli, kale and cauliflower are actually a single species, Vamosi said.
Eating lots of different produce might not actually provide you with a phylogenetically diverse diet, and whether thats important for providing maximum nutritional value remains to be seen.
The study also argues that steps to protect the diversity of human food plants may have to be taken as globalization and industrial-scale agriculture gradually leads to more uniform diets for the worlds population overall.
"Individually we are probably eating a greater range of plant species than our ancestors, but the loss of indigenous knowledge and regional cuisines may mean that as a species our diet is becoming increasing focussed on a few plant species, and indeed a few varieties of those species states coauthor John Wilson.
The fact that we do eat so broadly indicates that we enjoy many different flavours and combinations of flavours and also indicates that many plants that we don't eat likely have some sort of culinary value that we just haven't discovered yet, Vamosi said
|Contact: Grady Semmens|
University of Calgary