A plant native to America could be grown in the UK bringing huge benefits for a balanced, sustainable diet, new research has found.
Potato bean - Apios Americana – is commonly found in Florida, Texas and Colorado and was once a staple foraged food source.
UK researchers investigated whether the plant - which is high in protein – could be used as part of a healthier and biodiverse diet.
They also looked at whether it could also potentially help the environment by being a dietary source of protein.
Dr Madalina Neacsu, from the Rowett Institute, said the majority of people’s protein intake in the UK currently came from animal sources.
"However, if we could diversify our recommended dietary intake of protein from plant-based sources, such as the potato bean, this could contribute towards meeting climate targets as well as improving health.
“The potato bean has shown previously that it can adapt to a wide geographical range and has a high tolerance to a wide range of conditions, so it is able to grow in environments away from America.”
Dr Robin Walker, from Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), said there was potential in the implementation of new crops grown in the UK that could help people maintain a balanced diet.
“Trials are now needed to gain more insight into the best way to grow and utilise Apios on a broader scale, taking into account its perennial growth habit and the potential to use its foliage and seeds as well as the tubers.”
The research was published in Journal of Food Composition and Analysis.