Plants, food and human health: You are what you eat? 

(With Mike Lean, Barry Pogson and Cathie Martin) 

We need food to survive, and plants are an important part of any human diet. Changes to our diet,
brought about by the development of agriculture and industrial food processing, have had both positive and negative effects on human health globally. While many people suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition, currently more humans in the world suffer the ill-effects of eating too
much overall, and with a poor nutritional balance – i.e. too much of the wrong kinds of foods, and not enough of the right kinds. This lecture describes the chemical composition of food, how different foods affect us physiologically and can contribute to the prevention or development of chronic diseases, and how nutrition research, agricultural practices and plant breeding programs can contribute to more healthful diets. Posted May 11, 2012, revised November 26, 2014 by Vagner Benedito (, Mary Williams, Mike Lean, Barry Pogson and Cathie Martin.