By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
The unequivocal conclusion from an international team of nutrition and agriculture researchers is that organic produce packs much more antioxidant punch and contains much less pesticide residue than non-organic fruits and vegetables. The findings, based on an analysis of 340 previous studies done throughout the world and in a variety of production seasons, were published by the British Journal of Nutrition. The exhaustive analysis was conducted in an effort to clear up divided scientific opinion.
The study included these findings:
• “statistically significant and meaningful differences” in composition between organic and non-organic crops and crop-based foods;
• a “substantially” higher concentration of plant-based antioxidants in organic produce, particularly fruit;
• an occurrence of pesticide residues four times higher in conventional crops, as well as higher concentration of the toxic metal cadmium.
My Viewpoint: For many years there has been widespread concern about the potential harm to the environment and health from agrochemicals. This concern sparked the organic movement. Despite some research in the past claiming no difference in nutritional value, I have always strongly felt – and advised my patients accordingly– that organic is not only the best option from a purity standpoint but probably also from a nutritional one as well.
What this Means to You: The organic foods were found to have much higher levels – ranging from 19 to nearly 70 percent higher − of phenolic acids, flavanones, stilbenes, flavones, flavonols, and anthocyanins. These natural compounds are linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disorders, and some types of cancer. The study, written by experts from nine different countries, certainly fortifies my argument that even though organic produce is typically more expensive, the difference is worth it. You don’t want to scrimp when your health is involved.
Recommendation: It’s a no-brainer. As I’ve said for years, go organic!
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