Modelling the Consequences of Variability in Food Production Chains on Human Health

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Epidemiological studies on the relation between fruit and vegetable intake and chronic diseases show variable results. In many studies a small protective effect is found for fruit and vegetable intake and the risk for cardiovascular diseases and cancers. In other studies these effects could not be found in a statistically significant way. Experimental animal and mechanistic studies with cell lines or in humans show often clear protective effects of many phytochemicals like e.g. glucosinolates, flavonoids and carotenoids. In this paper the effect of variability in the food production chain on the results of epidemiological studies as predicted by probabilistic simulation studies is presented. Even if a very strong protective effect of a phytochemical is assumed, this variability will lead to only very small, non-significant, protective effects to be found in epidemiological studies. The effect of different scenarios to improve human health has been investigated. Increasing the fruit and vegetable consumption will produce far less benefits when compared with a scenario of increasing the level of phytochemicals and reducing the variability in its content.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-76
JournalActa Horticulturae
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Bioactive compounds
  • Brassica
  • Epidemiology
  • Glucosinolates
  • Monte Carlo simulations
  • Processing
  • Vegetables


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