I’ve noticed a trend towards organic foods on the market. Are they that much better for you and do the health benefits outweigh the often marked-up prices?
Answer:Recent research suggests that organic food may provide some additional nutritional quality over conventionally grown produce. Specifically, Agronomy for Sustainable Development published a report on the topic. The main findings were:
1. Organically grown produce tended to have higher levels of antioxidants
2. Organically grown and conventional fruits and vegetables contained the same amount of minerals, although levels of Magnesium and Iron appeared to be higher in organic produce
3. Organic animal products tended to contain more polyunsaturated fatty acids
4. Organic vegetables contained less nitrates than conventional vegetables
There wasn’t enough data to determine if there were any differences in the carbohydrate, protein and vitamin levels of organic vs. conventionally grown foods.
While this report provides evidence for organic foods, we still need more high quality studies to determine whether there is a significant difference between the nutritional quality of organic and conventional foods.
Regardless of the organic issue, most of us aren’t eating enough fruit and veg as it is. So, if cost is a barrier, don’t be put off buying conventional fruit and veg. They provide an excellent source of fibre, vitamins and minerals, plus a range of antioxidants. As you’ve mentioned, organic food is more expensive due to the higher cost of production. However, if cost is not an issue, then you can enjoy supporting the organic movement.
The main thing is that we all eat at least 5+ a day. That’s 2 servings of fruit and at least 3 servings of vegetables each day. Choose fruit and veg that are in season, and then look after them when you get them home to ensure they retain as much of their natural nutrient content as possible. To do this, store them correctly and try and eat them as soon as possible after you buy them, rather than leaving them in your fridge for a week!
|Emily is the Nutritionist at Healtheries. For more information about Healtheries, one of New Zealand's most trusted health brands, visit www.healtheries.co.nz or phone 0800 848 254.|