The role of wild fruits and vegetables in delivering a balanced and healthy diet
This review in the Food Research International Journal explores literature on wild fruits and vegetables with a special emphasis on some of the poorest regions of the world and with the lowest consumption figures of fruits and vegetables. Additionally, it looks at the role of wild fruits and vegetables in the diet with a view to uncover their possible role in delivering a healthy and balanced diet, considering amongst others their nutritional composition. The results indicate that wild fruits and vegetables are nutritionally rich and high in phytochemicals, especially antioxidants. Therefore they can possibly play a significant and positive role in delivering a healthy and balanced diet. However, the major challenge are the acceptability, accessibility as well as a lack of interest in wild fruits and vegetables. People need to be educated on the nutritional and health benefits of these wild food plants with a view to bring them from the forest to the plate. Furthermore, researchers need to channel more efforts towards domesticating them for ease of access. Lastly, governments need to incentivize the subsistence or commercial production of wild fruits and vegetables in order to encourage farmers to cultivate them. However, seeds and/or seedlings need to be made available and affordable to the farmers.