Older varities of fruit and vegetables are being studied to find out whether they provide more nutrients.
A three-year research project plans to get to the bottom of this and demonstrate how significant the differences are.
It follows research by consumer goods firm Unilever that found that the Egremont Russet variety of apple contains up to ten times more of one type of nutrient than some modern varieties.
Unilever said it hoped that the study, co-funded by the Technology Strategy Board, would result in new products containing ingredients from plants that currently have little use within the food industry.
Dr Mark Berry, based at Unilever's research and development laboratories in Bedford who is leading the consortium, said: "The plants we eat today like fruits and vegetables have often been bred and selected on their weight-based yield per acre of land, and not necessarily on the nutrient content of the produce.
"This research looks to turn this approach on its head. Perhaps a better strategy for human health, not to mention sustainable agriculture, would be to buy plants not based on their weight, but on their nutrient content.
"It's fascinating to contemplate that these pre-domesticated varieties have remained relatively unchanged for thousands of years. We'll be going back in time to identify the plants from yesteryear that our ancient ancestors would have eaten, with a view to potentially reintroducing them into our diet."
The three-year study will also attempt to identify older and more nutritious varieties of mangoes and tea.