Study Finds Organic Food Has More Benefits


A new international study suggests that organic foods contain higher levels of antioxidants than conventionally grown versions. The research, led by the University of Newcastle and published last week in the British Journal of Nutrition, found concentrations of antioxidants such as polyphenols that were 18-69% higher in organic foods. “Many of these compounds have already been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and some cancers, in dietary interventions and epidemiological studies,” the study said. Researchers suggest that switching to organic fruits, vegetables and grains provides consumers with 20-40% more antioxidants, which would be equivalent to eating between one and two more servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The team also found that pesticide residues were four times more likely to be found in conventional crops than in organic crops, and that levels of cadmium, a toxic heavy metal, are almost twice as high in food. grown conventionally. However, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program (PDP) annually tests conventional fruits and vegetables and finds that “food in the United States is not a safety concern due to pesticide residues. “. As for cadmium, the study itself notes that “the exact health benefits associated with the reduction [cadmium] intake levels through a shift to organic food consumption are difficult to estimate. The article is a meta-analysis of more than 340 studies on the compositional differences between organic and conventional crops. “There are many more high quality studies comparing the nutritional quality and safety of organic foods versus conventional foods and this larger and better database supports some conclusions that have not been reached in some of the above. previous studies, ”said one of the authors, Professor Charles Benbrook of Washington State University. While the decrease in the number of pesticides on organic foods may not have come as a big surprise, Benbrook said the findings on cadmium were certainly interesting. “None of the previous reviews noted this and reported significant differences in cadmium levels, but our meta-analysis was much more sophisticated,” he said. It takes into account the sample size and variance of each study included in the analysis, in addition to the average nutrient level. The results contradict a 2009 study commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency, which found that there were no substantial differences or significant nutritional benefits from organic foods. Critics of the latter study suggest that it exaggerates the importance of the findings for public health. While the findings on increasing antioxidants may be new, nutritionists are struggling to say exactly how beneficial they are. “This article is misleading because it refers to antioxidants in plants as if they were a class of essential nutrients, which they are not. The article deceptively suggests that the health benefits result from high intake of antioxidants, especially protection against cancer, ”said Professor Tom Sanders of King’s College London’s School of Medicine. told The Independent. “This study does not provide any evidence to change my point of view that there are no significant nutritional differences between conventional and organic crops.” The Alliance for Food and Farming maintains its position that organic and conventional fruits and vegetables are healthy and that the best thing people can do for their health is to eat more of one or both. “Everyone seems to agree on this, and we don’t understand how discussing the best growing method is good for consumers,” said Marilyn Dolan, Alliance executive director. “Certainly raising unnecessary concerns among consumers about the safety of either system is not beneficial. Pitting one system against another does not lead to an increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, which we have to do. ” On his blog, Food Politics, Marion Nestle also noted that the Newcastle study was not fully independently funded. It was jointly funded by the EU’s European Framework Program 6 and the Sheepdrove Trust, which supports initiatives to increase organic farming and sustainability. Additionally, she suggested that the aim of the study appears to be to prove that organic foods are more nutritious for marketing purposes. “But most people who buy organic do it because they understand that organic products are about production values,” Nestlé wrote. “Like I said, if they’re more nutritious that’s a bonus, but there are plenty of other great reasons to prefer them.” To critics who aren’t convinced the extra antioxidants make a significant difference, Benbrook said, “Notice they didn’t say, ‘Science says it doesn’t. They say it’s an open question. He recognized that other aspects of eating will alter an individual’s response. “With people eating the recommended six to eight servings of fruits and vegetables and getting enough antioxidants, an extra 20% won’t make a big difference to them,” he said. “But for people who only consume two servings of fruits and vegetables and who are probably consuming less than half of their optimal daily intake of antioxidants, a 20-40% increase for these people will translate into health benefits over the years. the road. “


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