August 4, 2014

279 Organic - There is a Difference! [4 August 2014]

Two years ago in October 2012 (#185) I wrote about a review by Stanford University which concluded that “The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods”.

Last month a meta-analysis of 343 peer-reviewed publications – described as the largest study of its kind – was published in the British Journal of Nutrition. The authors found “statistically significant and meaningful differences in composition between organic and non-organic crops/crop-based foods.” More specifically they found that conventional compared to organic crops had:
• substantially lower levels of antioxidant compounds
• pesticide residues 3-4 times more likely with levels 10 – 100 times higher
• nearly double the concentration of Cadmium
• some nutrients (minerals and vitamins) were significantly lower, most about the same, and protein was generally higher

Antioxidants including phenolic acids, flavanones, stilbenes, flavones, flavonols and anthocyanins were 18 to 69% higher in the organic crops. Antioxidants are linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke), neurodegenerative diseases (eg Alzheimer’s and MS), and some cancers.

Cadmium is a heavy metal which displaces zinc in the body and is highly toxic at very low levels. According to the authors, a doubling of cadmium intake from food could put some people over safe intake levels.

Charles Benbrook, the sole American co-author wrote:
“This study is telling a powerful story of how organic plant-based foods are nutritionally superior and deliver bona fide health benefits”.
Why the change from the earlier study? Project leader Carlo Leifert explains: “We benefited from a much larger and higher quality set of studies than our colleagues who carried out earlier reviews.” The team found the quality and reliability of comparison studies had greatly improved in recent years, leading to the discovery of significant nutritional and food safety differences not detected in earlier studies.

Sources and Resources
BJN abstract
Washington State University News - with list of resources links
Mercola review
The Salt blog post

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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