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Organic Food is More Nutritious - Mediatani, Sumber Soil Association
Last modified: 2010-03-18 20:44:23

More research is being published all the time showing that organic food is more nutritious. Many studies have shown that organic food contains higher levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients than non-organic food. Organic food generally contains fewer potential toxins like synthetic pesticides and antibiotics. Studies have also linked GMOs, which are banned from organic food, to adverse health effects. Here you can find about the latest scientific findings about organic food:

A 10-year study comparing organic tomatoes with rival produce suggests they have almost double the amount of antioxidants called flavonoids that protect the heart. According to the findings, levels of quercetin and kaempferol were found to be on average 79 per cent and 97 per cent higher, respectively, in organic tomatoes. Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, is quoted in The Times, "We welcome the now rapidly growing body of evidence which shows significant differences between the nutritional composition of organic and non-organic food. As further scientific evidence emerges from new research looking at differences between organic and non-organic food, the Soil Association will be asking the FSA to keep their nutritional advice to consumers under review." See articles in the Daily Telegraph and The Times, or read the article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

In March 2007, three European research projects revealed that organic tomatoes, peaches and processed apples all have higher nutritional quality than non-organic. Researchers found that organic tomatoes "contained more dry matter, total and reducing sugars, vitamin C, B-carotene and flavonoids in comparison to the conventional ones", while conventional tomatoes in this study were richer in lycopene and organic acids. Previous research has found organic tomatoes have higher levels of vitamin C, vitamin A and lycopene. In the latest research, the scientists conclude "organic cherry and standard tomatoes can be recommended as part of a healthy diet including plant products which have shown to be of value in cancer prevention". A French study found that organic peaches "have a higher polyphenol content at harvest" and concludes that organic production has "positive effects ... on nutritional quality and taste". A Polish study found organic apple puree contained "more bio-active substances - total phenols, flavonoids and vitamin C - in comparison to conventional apple preserves" and the researchers concluded "organic apple preserves can be recommended as valuable fruit products, which can contribute to a healthy diet".

This follows a study from the University of California Davis which discovered that organically grown kiwis had significantly higher levels of vitamin C and polyphenols. The researchers said: "All the main mineral constituents were more concentrated in the organic kiwi fruit, which also had higher asorbic acid (vitamin C) and total polyphenol content, resulting in higher antioxidant activity. It is possible that conventional growing practices utilise levels of pesticides that can result in a disruption to phenolic metabolites in the plant that have a protective role in plant defence mechanisms." See our press release EU funded studies show organic food has higher nutritional quality.

Fourteen top scientists wrote to the Government's food watchdog, the Food Standards Agency, asking them to recognise the mounting body of evidence that organic milk is more nutritious than non-organic milk. Their letter was sparked by new research from the University of Liverpool showing that organic milk contains 68% more omega-3 essential fatty acids. Read more on the OMSCo website, read the letter to the FSA [PDF, 357 KB], read our press release or download the study in the Journal of Dairy Science.

Meat from grass-fed animals is higher in essential fatty acids. Research suggests that a diet high in forage (grass, hay, silage) rather than grain reduces the saturated fatty acid concentrations and enhances the content of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in beef. Organic standards require that cattle be fed on predominantly forage-based diets. References: Greener Pastures report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, IGER/University of Bristol, the Meat Science journal and the R&H Hall Technical Bulletin.

A 2002 Italian study published in the journal Meat Science, found that organic chicken contained higher levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including 38% more omega-3, than non-organic chicken. It also found that the free-range behaviour of organic chickens "reduced the[ir] abdominal fat [by 65%], and favoured muscle mass development". Taste tests found that organic chicken scored significantly higher for juiciness. The scientists reared 500 chickens of the same breed themselves, half of which were reared organically and half non-organically. 40 birds were randomly selected for analysis, 20 from each group. The study concluded that "organic production systems seem to be a good alternative, due to better welfare conditions and good quality of the carcass and meat." (C. Castellini, C. Mugnai and A. Dal Bosco (2002) ‘Effect of organic production on broiler carcass and meat quality', Meat Science, 60, 219-225.)

Organic chicken contains 25% less fat than intensively-reared chicken according to research from the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, London Metropolitan University. (Wang YQ, Thomas B, Ghebremeskel K and Crawford MA (2004) Changes in Protein and Fat Balance of Some Primary Foods: Implications for Obesity, Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, London Metropolitan University. Presented on 6th Congress of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids, 27 June - 1 July 2004, Brighton.) Read the abstract.

An ISIS review of peer-reviewed publications found that ‘organic foods tend to be less contaminated' with mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are toxic fungi which can affect stored grain, nuts and dried fruit. This puts to rest claims from the GM industry that organic food is more at risk of mycotoxin contamination since fungicides are not permitted in organic farming. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization also recognise that "Studies have not shown that consuming organic products leads to a greater risk of mycotoxin contamination".

The fruits and vegetables in the USA contain lower levels of several vitamins and minerals today than 50 to 60 years ago, according to research from the University of Texas. By growing or buying and eating organic produce, however, we can make up much of the difference. Organically grown fruits and vegetables are proving to have higher levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals than their conventionally grown counterparts. Read the article in the San Francisco Chronicle and the research paper.

Although some genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been approved and marketed for several years, there was no body of scientific research on their impact on health. Now, a body of evidence starting to emerge from a small number of animal feeding trials into the adverse health effects of GMOs, including allergic reactions and effects on major body organs.

A study from Denmark showed that the immune response is enhanced when rats are fed on organically grown or minimally fertilised plant diets. This was shown in a study of the health of rats that were fed plant diets grown according to organic or conventional conditions. The study also indicated the rats fed on organically grown diets rested better during daytime. More details are available from www.darcof.dk

Several studies have demonstrated that organic milk is more nutritious than milk from non-organic cows. Organic milk contains higher levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids, vitamin E and the antioxidant beta-carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A) . Read a review of the evidence.

Read the article, Organic foods in Relation to Nutrition and Health, in the Coronary & Diabetic Care in the UK journal.

A study showed higher levels of total phenolic (TP) content were consistently found in organically and sustainably grown foods as compared to those produced by conventional agricultural practices. TPs play an important role in plant defense mechanisms, and increasing evidence indicates that many are important in human health. Comparison of the Total Phenolic and Ascorbic Acid Content of Freeze-Dried and Air-Dried Marionberry, Strawberry, and Corn Grown Using Conventional, Organic, and Sustainable Agricultural Practices, Asami et al in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2003, 51, pp 1237-1241.

A review of 41 studies found higher levels of all the 21 nutrients analysed, compared with conventional produce. This included statistically significant higher levels of iron (21% more), magnesium (29% more), phosphorus (14% more) and vitamin C (27% more), and significantly less nitrate (a toxic compound). Organic spinach, lettuce, cabbage and potatoes showed particularly high levels of minerals. Nutritional Quality of Organic Versus Conventional Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains, Virginia Worthington in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Volume 7, Number 2, 2001, pp 161-173. Read the abstract.

Read the report, Organic Farming, Food Quality and Human Health, written by nutritionist Shane Heaton for the Soil Association.

A Comparison of Organically and Conventionally Grown Foods - Results of a Review of the Relevant Literature, Woese at al in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 1997, 74, pp 281-293

If you have written or know of any relevant research not listed here, please contact info@soilassociation.org. Updated studies are also available at www.organicfqhresearch.org.


Keywords: Media Tani, organic, food, research, nutrition
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