Food Safety vs. Food Nutrition
It is important to first distinguish clearly between food safety and food nutrition. Both aspects are important; it is not one or the other.
Food safety relates to the presence of harmful chemicals in food, such as pesticides, for example.
Food nutrition relates to nutritional aspects of food, such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.
From a food safety point of view, it is clear beyond doubt that organic food is superior.
In this post we are specifically examining the question, “Is Organic Food more nutritious?”
Nutrients in food
Nutrients we commonly refer to are the conventional ones like carbohydrates, proteins and fat. We get a lot of most of these anyway from the typical food we eat – including junk food.
However, the more important nutrients in food that we should be really concerned about are those found not in grams or even milligrams, but micrograms. These are minerals, vitamins and other multitudes of antioxidant chemicals. These antioxidants are behind the benefits ascribed to eating fruits and vegetables.
What are Antioxidants
Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce “free radicals” in living organisms. These free radicals lead to uncontrolled chain reactions that may damage the cells of organisms. Some of the effects of free radicals are: (Reference 1)
- Deterioration of the lens in eyes, leading to blindness
- Damage to nerve cells in the brain, leading to conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease
- Speeding up of the ageing process
- Increased risk of coronary heart disease
- Certain types of cancers that can be caused by damaged cell DNA
Antioxidants are believed slow down or terminate these chain reactions by neutralising the free radicals.
Research into antioxidants started in a big way only since the 1990s and is still nascent. So, the effects of most naturally occurring phytonutrients (or nutrients found in plants), that are classified as antioxidants is largely yet unknown.
What science says…
A review of available research evidence comparing the health effects of organic and conventional foods stated the following… “lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.” (Reference 2)
However, this conclusion is based on the evaluation of the conventional nutrients and some vitamins and minerals.
Interestingly, this same review records a distinctly and significantly higher level of phenolic phytonutrients (which are one of the antioxidants) in organic food. These phenolic compounds are also called “secondary metabolites” in plants.
Another review published in 2014 in the British Journal of Nutrition also found that a concentration of a wide range of polyphenol compounds as much higher in organic foods. It also found a significant difference in vitamins and minerals in organic food. (Reference 3)
Closer home, a comparative study of these phenolic compounds in green leafy vegetables clearly indicates that the proportion of phemolic compounds is much higher in those organically grown. (Reference 4)
The Answer… Yes and Yes!
To sum up, whereas the levels of the conventional nutrient may be the same between organic food and chemically grown food, the levels of the micronutrients such as antioxidants are definitely higher in organic food.
When seen in totality, the overall nutritional benefit of organic food is definitely better than its inorganic counterparts.
So, is Organic Food more nutritious? Definitely, YES!
Add to that the fact that organic food is also undoubtedly safer, with a very low likelihood of pesticides and other chemicals.
So, what do we have here… the clear winner is…. ORGANIC FOOD!
So, for the sake of yourself and your children, do not hesitate!
Switch to Organic Food TODAY!
Join the Safe Food Movement! Stay informed and aware!
- Antioxidants [Online] // Better Health Channel. – Victoria State Government, Australia. – https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/antioxidants#.
- Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review [Journal] / auth. Crystal Smith-Spangler MD, et al. – [s.l.]: Annals of internal medicine, Sep 2012. – Vols. 157 (5) 348-66.
- Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses.[Journal] / auth. Barański M et al // British Journal of Nutrition. – 14 Sep 2014. – Vols. 112(5):794-811.
- Total phenolic content of organic and conventional green leafy vegetables [Journal] / auth. Jemima B Mohankumar L Uthira, Maheswari SU // Journal of Nutrition and Human Health. – 2018. – 1: Vol. 2.