Some Plants May Do More Harm Than Good In Your Plant-Based Diet: Study

These plants may develop toxic components as the climate changes and the global population expands, particularly in poor countries. The results of the study were published in the journal Environmental Neurology.

Edited by Neha Grover  |  Updated: October 26, 2019 16:49 IST

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Some Plants May Do More Harm Than Good In Your Plant-Based Diet: Study

Plant-based Diet: Not all of those plants may be advantageous for you.

Healthy diet: More and more people are moving towards vegetarian or vegan diet these days for good nutrition and good health. Plant-based diets have proven to be beneficial with all the nutrients coming from vegetables or raw plants. It is true that plant-based diet leads to a healthy lifestyle, but not all of those plants may be advantageous for you. In fact, some plants may have adverse effects on your health. Some researchers have discovered that not all plants are good, especially for those people who are undernourished or rely on a single plant diet. These plants may develop toxic components as the climate changes and the global population expands, particularly in poor countries. However, in rich countries too, increasing interest in wild edibles also raises the risk for people being exposed to potentially toxic plants. 

The results of the study were published in the journal Environmental Neurology. The researchers identified some plants with neurotoxic potential that could sicken or even kill undernourished people across the globe. Peter Spencer, professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine and an affiliated faculty member of the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at OHSU explained, "The bottom line is that plants and fungi were not put here for our benefit - they need to defend themselves. The adverse neurological effects of food dependency on plant components with toxic potential constitute a significant global health issue." 

(Also Read: Plant-Based Diet May Not Be That Great For Your Brain, Says This Study)

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These plants may develop toxic components as the climate changes and the global population expands.

The researchers highlighted the following plants with potential neurotoxic effects -

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  • Fruit of the ackee tree, an evergreen native to West Africa and favorite of Jamaica
  • Lychee fruit, a delicious tropical fruit from southern Asia now eaten worldwide
  • Grasspea, a protein-rich legume eaten on the Indian continent and the Horn of Africa
  • Cassava, a plant whose roots and leaves are consumed in across sub-Sahara

The study explained ways in which these plants may affect brain function or, in the case of cassava and grasspea, slowly develop crippling disease. Although, it largely depends on the amount of plant product consumed, the existing status of health of the people eating it and availability of these plants; determined by poverty, hunger and climate change.

"Prevention of brain disease is our principal goal-seeking and understanding the chemical causes of disease and minimizing human exposure. This is very concerning, particularly because many people are going to need to rely on these crops in the future," Spencer added.

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