On 10:02 PM by NY Drs. Urgent Care
Overall, organic foods are not nutritionally superior to conventional foods, neither are they safer regarding bacterial contamination, researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine reported in Annals of Internal Medicine. The scientists emphasized that they did not find any significant evidence pointing to nutritional benefits linked to the consumption of organic foods. They did, however, find "weak evidence" of higher phenol levels in organic produce.
While eating organic vegetables and fruits does mean that the consumer has approximately 30% less exposure to pesticide residues, conventional foods are well below threshold limits.
Crystal Smith-Spangler, MD, MS, Dena Bravata, MD, MS, and team carried out a review of 17 human studies and 223 other studies of nutrient and contaminant levels in fresh foods, including pork, beef, chicken, eggs, milk, grains, vegetables and fruit. Their aim was to compare the safety, nutritional and health characteristics of conventional and organic foods, which clearly showed the benefits versus the harms of conventional and organic foods.
Studies on organic foods have produced varying results. One in February 2012 found that organic rice may have high levels of arsenic. A 2010 study published in PLoS ONE reported that organic strawberries have more antioxidants and vitamin C but less potassium and phosphorus than conventionally grown strawberries.
Dr. Smith-Spangler said, "some believe that organic food is always healthier and more nutritious. My colleagues and I were a little surprised that we didn't find that."
There was some weak evidence showing that organic foods have much higher levels of phenols, which are said to be strong antioxidants, than conventional foods. There was also some evidence that omega-3 fatty acid levels in organic milk are higher. However, as deficiency in these compounds is fairly rare anyway; the authors believe these findings have "little clinical significance".
The scientists found that organic foods had higher levels of nitrogen than other foods. They believe this is likely to be because of different uses of fertilizers. Another factor might be that organic foods are harvested at different stages of ripeness. They added that a higher nitrogen content "is unlikely to provide any health benefits".
Organic foods are more expensive
US consumers typically have to pay much more for organic foods, sometimes twice as much, compared to conventional food prices. They are produced using farming methods which do not involve applying pesticides or chemical fertilizers, they are not processed using industrial solvents, chemical food additives, or irradiation.
Organic foods of animal origin, such as dairy goods and meats, come from animals that are usually free range (they roam outdoors), the authors explained. In some countries, however, free range and organic are completely different terms - free range might not necessarily mean organic, while non-free-range animals may be fed organic foods and produce organic milk and meats.
All the studies reviewed were short or medium term ones
The scientists stressed that there were no health studies which concentrated on the long-term health outcomes of people who consumed organic foods versus conventional foods. Of the over 200 reports they assessed, the time-spans ranged from two days to a maximum of 24 months. Put simply, we still have no idea whether organic foods are better than conventional foods over the long term.
A 2009 study funded by the Food Standards Agency, UK, and carried out by scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found that organically produced foods are no better than conventionally produced foods, from a nutritional point of view.
Researchers from the University of California reported in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry that organically grown tomatoes have considerably higher levels of flavonoids than non-organic ones. Their study had lasted ten years and concluded that organic tomatoes are better for heart health and controlling blood pressure.
Information from medicalnewstoday.com
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