Foods grown without toxic chemicals aren’t just good for the environment. A new study by Newcastle University in the UK shows that organic foods actually contain more cancer-fighting antioxidants and less toxic residue than foods grown using pesticides, herbicides and insecticides.
The study results, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, reveal that shifting to organic produce, cereals and foods made from organic ingredients would provide so many more antioxidants that it would be like eating between 1-2 extra helpings of fruit and vegetables a day. The study also concluded that four times more pesticide residue was likely to be found on conventionally produced foods than on those grown organically.
Increasing the amount of antioxidants someone consumes has previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease as well as cancer, but the link between antioxidants and organic food was never particularly clear. This analysis reports unequivocally that the concentration of antioxidants such as polyphenolics and flavanones could be as much as 69% higher in organically-grown crops.
The study found two other important health benefits to eating organic food.
One, organic food reduces a person’s exposure to toxic heavy metals. Levels of cadmium, a metal contaminant that can threaten the kidneys, skeletal system, and respiratory system, were found to be almost 50% lower in organic crops than in those grown conventionally.
Two, concentrations of nitrogen, nitrates, and nitrites were lower in organic crops compared to those treated with toxic agricultural chemicals. Nitrates and nitrites have also been linked to cancer in some studies, so keeping them out of one’s diet makes a lot of sense.
For the increasing number of consumers who prefer a safer, healthier food supply, clearly it makes sense to shift to organic.