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Macro-and micronutrients in raw plant foods: The similarities of foods and implication for dietary diversification

Ying Li, Rahul Bahadur, Jaspreet Ahuja, Pamela Pehrsson, James Harnly
Journal of food composition and analysis 2021 v.102 pp. 103993
cluster analysis, diet, food composition, food consumption, malnutrition
One in three people in the world suffers from some form of malnutrition. A possible solution to malnutrition is dietary diversity, especially diversifying plant food consumption. However, there has not been a suitable method to guide the acquisition of balanced nutrients from diverse plant sources. Here, we report a tool for categorizing raw plant foods based on the similarity of nutrients. We analyzed the correlations among 25 macro- and micronutrients of 268 raw plant foods across five food categories (fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and nuts), then visualized the distribution of the nutrients and plant foods using 2D and hoverable 3D principal component analyses (PCA) to guide balanced diets. Furthermore, the foods formed 4 nutritionally diverse clusters using cluster analysis. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a nutrient-based food categorization system. Importantly, this process can be used to guide the development of other food categorization systems for nutrient diversification.