Desk Report: If there is one topic that gets a lot of debate in the health community, it’s whether or not organic foods are better for you than conventional. Two scientific reviews, one conducted in 2009 and the other in 2012, found no significant difference in nutrient content.
But a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition looked at 343 peer-reviewed publications and concluded that statistically there is a significant and meaningful difference in composition between organic and non-organic crops, specifically that organic produce has higher levels of antioxidants. However levels of proteins, amino acids, and nitrogen were lower in the organic crops sampled.
Antioxidants help protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals, and there is a lot of research to support their importance in our health: They may improve the immune system, decrease risk for certain cancers and heart disease, and improve skin, hair, and nails.
But do we need to switch to organic to reap the benefits of antioxidants? Probably not. The most important thing when it comes to fruits and vegetables is not whether they are organic or conventional, but whether you actually eat them. Spending extra money on organic when it is simply going to spoil in your refrigerator makes no sense at all.
The study also noted, “it is important to point out that there is still a lack of knowledge about the potential human health impacts of increasing antioxidant intake levels and switching to organic food consumption.” So to me, what makes the most sense at this time is simply making sure you include fruits and veggies in your diet daily.
However, I will also add that if you are concerned about pesticide usage in fruits and veggies, that is another story. An excellent source to find out which fruits and veggies have the highest and lowest pesticide amount is the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide. Do keep in mind though that even organic food can have pesticides, but they are derived from natural sources, not synthetic.