Study Shows Organic Foods have more Antioxidants

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
(AP photo)

A European study says organic foods are higher in antioxidants than conventional crops, lending weight to the claims that natural farming methods produce healthier things to eat.


The research (pdf), funded by the European Union and the Sheepdrove Trust, a British charity that supports organic farming, showed organic crops contained 17% more antioxidants than conventionally grown crops. With some antioxidants, such as flavanones, the rate was much higher (69%).


“It shows very clearly how you grow your food has an impact,” Carlo Leifert, a professor of ecological agriculture at Newcastle University in England, who led the research, told The New York Times. “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.”


The study also says organic foods contain fewer pesticides, which is a primary reason why many prefer fruits and vegetables grown in a reduced chemical environment. It also found a reduced amount of the toxic metal cadmium in organically produced foods, especially grains.


Leifert told the Times that his team was not willing to state categorically that organic is a healthier choice than conventional growing methods. “We are not making health claims based on this study, because we can’t,” he said. The study, which was based on the findings of other research projects, lacked enough evidence “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.”


The researchers did note, however, that the other studies indicated some antioxidants may help reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases.


This study contradicts a report two years ago by Stanford researchers, who didn’t find a significant difference in the nutritional value of organically grown and traditionally grown produce. The Stanford study also minimized the amount of pesticides in non-organic produce, saying it was below safety limits.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Study of Organic Crops Finds Fewer Pesticides and More Antioxidants (by Kenneth Chang, New York Times)

Higher Antioxidant and Lower Cadmium Concentrations and Lower Incidence of Pesticide Residues in Organically Grown Crops: A Systematic Literature Review and Meta-Analyses (by Marcin Barański, Dominika Srednicka-Tober, Nikolaos Volakakis, Chris Seal, Roy Sanderson, Gavin B. Stewart, Charles Benbrook, Brunno Biavati, Emilia Markellou,  Charilaos Giotis, Joanna Gromadzka-Ostrowska, Ewa Rembiałkowska, Krystyna Skwarło-Sońta, Raija Tahvonen, Dagmar Janovská, Urs Niggli, Philippe Nicot, and Carlo Leifert; British Journal of Nutrition) (pdf)

Organic Foods Not Necessarily Safe if They Come from China (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Researchers of Anti-Organic Report Funded by Agribusiness (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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