New Study Shows Organic Crops Contain More Anti-oxidants/Fewer Pesticides

Rachel Goodman's picture

Consumers choose organic foods for many reasons- for example, because the food is produced in a way that is better for the environment. Now, a new comprehensive review of previous studies shows mounting evidence organic crops may also contain more anti-oxidants and fewer pesticide residues.  In a new study published today in the British Journal of Nutrition researchers at Newcastle University in England have found that organic crops overall contain 17% more key anti-oxidants than non-organically grown crops, while some classes of anti-oxidants known as flavinones, were found at a rate 69% higher. Anti-oxidants are components in fighting cancer and are thought to play a key role in preventing heart disease and neurodegenerative disease

The research analysed 343 studies into the differences between organic and conventional crops and found that switching to organic foods would provide anti-oxidants equivalent to eating 1-2 extra portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

The research also shows that organic crops have markedly lower levels of toxic heavy metals, including 50% less cadmium.  Pesticide residues were four times more likely to be found in conventional crops than organic ones.

This study comes at a time when science or organics is hotly debated. In 2009, a UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) study of 46 publications found no significant difference between organic and non-organic crops when it comes to nutrition.  This week’s study, which refutes those findings, used more current data and analysed 343 peer-reviewed publications. Researchers say the reason for the disparate conclusion is the current availability of far more data on composition of crops than was previously accessible.

The study’s authors point out their research does not show a proven health benefit of eating organic foods, and they call for more health research into the nutritional benefits of eating organics.

The complete study is available on the Newcastle University website for the benefit of other experts and interested members of the public.

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