An Newcastle University led scientific review of 343 peer-reviewed studies looking at the composition of crops and foods has concluded organic crops had higher levels of certain antioxidants, such as polyphenols, which have been linked to health benefits.
The study demonstrates that choosing food produced according to organic standards can lead to increased intake of antioxidants, but reduced exposure to the toxic heavy metal cadmium and pesticides.
The study is the most extensive analysis of the nutrient content in organic versus conventionally-produced foods ever undertaken, and is the result of a new systematic literature review and meta-analysis by the Newcastle team
These findings contradict those of a 2009 UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) commissioned study (based on 64 publications) which found there were no substantial differences or significant nutritional benefits from organic food.
“The main difference between the two studies is time,” said Prof Leifert. “Research in this area has been slow to take off the ground and we have far more data available to us now than five years ago.”
Prof Leifert said: “This study should just be a starting point. We have shown without doubt there are composition differences between organic and conventional crops, and now there is an urgent need to carry out well-controlled human dietary intervention and cohort studies specifically designed to identify and quantify the health impacts of switching to organic food.”
For more information please see http://research.ncl.ac.uk/nefg/QOF .
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