Scientists, cautious as they are, have debated as to whether organic vegetables and fruits are indeed healthier than non-organic. Even though studies have found higher levels—as much as nearly 70 percent higher – of antioxidant compounds in organic foods when compared to non-organic foods, the research data as a whole has been called inconclusive, from a strict scientific point of view. Just the same, there’s little argument that organic crops have lower levels of toxic substances; that alone is enough for many consumers to make the switch. Expectedly better nutritional value is an added value to the safety factor that comes with lower toxicity.
But now, one of the largest data reviews performed to date should settle the issue once and for all. Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, meta-analyses of data pooled from 343 scientific studies “indicate statistically significant and meaningful differences in composition between organic and non-organic crops and crop-based foods,” according to the report. The content of antioxidant plant-based nutrients such as flavonoids, “were found to be substantially higher” in organic crops. Non-organic crops, on the other hand have four times more pesticide residues. Levels of cadmium, a toxic heavy metal, are also higher in conventional crops. And this holds true regardless of where the crops are grown, showing that organic farming practices do make a difference. “Organic crops, on average, have much higher concentrations of antioxidants, lower concentration of Cd (cadmium) and a lower incidence of pesticide residues than the non-organic comparators across regions and produce seasons”, the report concludes.
For those of you who’ve made the transition to organic shopping, you can now be assured that, where your health is concerned, it’s well worth the effort and expense.
Barański M, et al. Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. Br J Nutr. 2014 Jun 26:1-18. [Epub ahead of print].