A comprehensive review of earlier studies recently published on www.nytimes.com, has found substantially higher levels of antioxidants and lower levels of pesticides in organic fruits, vegetables and grains compared with conventionally grown produce.
“It shows very clearly how you grow your food has an impact,” said Carlo Leifert, a professor of ecological agriculture at Newcastle University in England, who led the research. “If you buy organic fruits and vegetables, you can be sure you have, on average, a higher amount of antioxidants at the same calorie level.”
However, the full findings, to be published next week in the British Journal of Nutrition, stop short of claiming that eating organic produce will lead to better health.
“We are not making health claims based on this study, because we can’t,” Dr. Leifert said. The study, he said, is insufficient “to say organic food is definitely healthier for you, and it doesn’t tell you anything about how much of a health impact switching to organic food could have.”
Still, the authors note that other studies have suggested some of the antioxidants have been linked to a lower risk of cancer and other diseases.
Organic farming, by and large, eliminates the use of conventional chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Those practices offer ecological benefits like healthier soils but produce less bountiful harvests. The Organic Trade Association, an industry organization, estimated organic food sales last year in the United States at $32.3 billion, or just over 4 percent of the total market.
What is disputed, vociferously, is whether organic fruits and vegetables provide a nutritional lift. Many naysayers regard organic as a marketing ploy to charge higher prices.
“The other argument would be, if you just eat a little bit more fruits and vegetables, you’re going to get more nutrients,” said Alan D. Dangour, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Dr. Dangour led a review published in 2009 that found no significant nutritional differences between conventional and organic foods.
Such differences are difficult to discern, because other factors that can vary widely from place to place and year to year, like the weather, also influence the nutrients. Even if differences exist, it is unclear whether they would affect consumer health.
In the new study, an international team of scientists did not conduct any laboratory or field work of their own. Instead, they compiled a database from 343 previously published studies and performed a statistical procedure known as a meta-analysis, which attempts to ferret robust bits of information from studies of varying designs and quality.
Over all, organic crops contained 17 percent more antioxidants than conventionally grown crops, the new study found. For some classes of antioxidants, the difference was larger. A group of compounds known as flavanones, for example, were 69 percent higher in the organic produce. (At very high quantities, as in some supplements, some antioxidants have been shown to be harmful, but the levels in organic produce were not nearly that high.)
The researchers said they analysed the data in several different ways, and each time the general results remained robust.
Article taken in part from www.nytimes.com
If you liked this article you may also like this one: 4 Superfoods that Wont Break the Bank
All content on this website is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Always consult your own GP if you’re in any way concerned about your health.