Another fascinating study has been published, revealing that organic produce is higher in antioxidants than conventional produce.
A large meta-analysis of 340 peer-reviewed international studies concluded that organic foods have several health advantages. Among them, that organics are higher in antioxidants, have fewer pesticide residues, and are lower in toxic metal content than conventional counterparts.
I’ve been reading a lot lately about antioxidants (research for my new book – more on that later!) and the range of positive health effects they can have. Hundreds of studies have shown that various antioxidants have the power to improve the immune system, shrink tumors, regulate blood sugar, improve blood pressure and cholesterol, and even improve athletic performance.
The primary job of antioxidants, however, isn’t to help us out, it’s to protect the plant they’re growing in – from pests, the sun, fungi, or other threats. One hypothesis is that organic foods have higher levels of antioxidants because they have to be a bit more hearty to survive in nature. Conventional produce has the advantage of various chemicals that do that job for them. So their antioxidants aren’t as high because they simply don’t need to be. Supply and demand!
Being lower in toxic heavy metals and pesticides that potentially cause cancer, hormone disruption, or neurotoxicity seem like nice advantages, too. For more on pesticides check out the Environmental Working Group’s great information.
While organics are likely a bit healthier for the above reasons, it’s still better to eat fruits and vegetables vs. skipping them if conventional is what you have. Even better, look for local options from smaller farms, who are more judicious about using sprays, use more sustainable farming practices, and likely have better soil quality than some of the massive organic farms – especially those overseas.
For more on how to use foods to transform your health contact me for a consultation, or check out Eat Happy’s meal plans, which will help you integrate nutrient-dense foods in an easy and approachable way.