Organic vs Conventional Vegetables – Which is better?

To further improve the nutrients you get from fresh Vegetables? — Choose Organic.

Organic Vegetables may contain more nutrients per serving

Generally speaking organic vegetables are always much more nutritious compared to convention produce.

However Freshness of vegetables is a more important criteria than organic or non-organic. First choose fresh, then among the fresh choose organic. Stale or wilted organic vegetables are worse than fresh conventional produce.

An international team of experts led by Newcastle University has shown that organic crops are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally-grown ones.

The study, published today in the prestigious British Journal of Nutrition, also shows significantly lower levels of toxic heavy metals in organic crops. Cadmium was found to be almost 50% lower in organic crops than conventionally-grown ones.

Newcastle University’s Professor Carlo Leifert, who led the study, says:

“This study demonstrates that choosing food produced according to organic standards can lead to increased intake of nutritionally desirable antioxidants and reduced exposure to toxic heavy metals.”

“The organic vs non-organic debate has rumbled on for decades now but the evidence from this study is overwhelming – that organic food is high in antioxidants and lower in toxic metals and pesticides.

“But this study should just be a starting point. We have shown without doubt there are composition differences between organic and conventional crops, 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.”

According to another 2013 study published in the journal PLOS ONE (2013), organically grown tomatoes have significantly elevated nutrient content compared to tomatoes grown conventionally, using agricultural chemicals. The organic tomatoes were found to contain 55 percent more vitamin C and 139 percent more total phenolic content at the stage of maturity compared to conventionally grown tomatoes.

A 2007 Quality Low Input Food Project  by the University of Hohenheim, Germany– a $25-million study into organic food reveals the best benefits of consuming organic.  The researchers grew fruit and vegetables, and raised cattle, on adjacent organic and non-organic sites, and discovered that:

  • Organic fruit and vegetables contained up to 40 percent more antioxidants.
  • Organic produce had higher levels of beneficial minerals like iron and zinc.
  • Milk from organic herds contained up to 90 percent more antioxidants

The results were so significant that they stated that

“Eating organic foods can even help to increase the nutrient intake of people who don’t eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.”

That should settle the organic vs non-organic debate for most people!

So go ahead and make vegetables the star of your meals. You now know that you must choose fresh and organic vegetables for the most impact. And finally relief for the mothers who will finally be able to choose the most nutrient dense veggies (even if the portion is small) for the kids who turn up their noses at the “green” on the plate.

References:

  1. Di Noia J. Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables: A Nutrient Density Approach. Prev Chronic Dis 2014;11:130390.
  2. 2007 Quality Low Input Food Project
  3. Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses.  Sep 2014
  4. The influence of organic and conventional cultivation systems on the nutritional value and content of bioactive compounds in selected tomato types. Nov 2012
  5. The Impact of Organic Farming on Quality of Tomatoes 2013
Anupama Singh

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