Fruit and vegetable consumption is a focus of research and nutrition education, but there is no universal agreement on the meaning of 'fruits and vegetables'. Foods that require specific instruction include rice, dried beans, potatoes, tomatoes and fruits and vegetables in mixtures and condiments.
Fruit and vegetables are important components of a healthy diet, and their sufficient daily consumption could help prevent major diseases. A recently published WHO/FAO report recommends a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables per day (excluding potatoes and other starchy tubers) for the prevention of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, as well as for the prevention and alleviation of several micronutrient deficiencies.
Fruits and vegetables are universally promoted as healthy. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommend you make one-half of your plate fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables include a diverse group of plant foods that vary greatly in content of energy and nutrients. Fruits and vegetables supply dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals to the diet and are sources of phytochemicals (phytonutrients) that function as antioxidants, phytoestrogens, and antiinflammatory agents and through other protective mechanisms.
The protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) has been adopted by FAO/WHO as the preferred method for the measurement of the protein value in human nutrition.
PDCAAS = Amino Acid Score x Digestibility
The method is based on comparison of the concentration of the first limiting essential amino acid in the test protein with the concentration of that amino acid in a reference (scoring) pattern. This scoring pattern is derived from the essential amino acid requirements of the preschool-age child.
Although the principle of the PDCAAS method has been widely accepted, critical questions have been raised in the scientific community:
the validity of the preschool-age child amino acid requirement values (more than 4 times greater than the EAA requirement for an adult),
the validity of correction for fecal instead of ileal digestibility,
the truncation of PDCAAS values to 100%.
The reference scoring pattern was based on studies performed more than 25 years ago on a limited number of 2-year-old children recovering from malnutrition.
According to the current official recommendations, a 2-year old child needs ~ 3x higher essential-to-non-essential amino acid ratio, and needs essential amino acids in different proportions than adult. Methionine/cysteine is the limiting essential amino acids for adults, and for children it is lysine or tryptophan.
The use of fecal digestibility overestimates the nutritional value of a protein because amino acid nitrogen entering the colon is lost for protein synthesis in the body and is, at least in part, excreted in urine as ammonia.