For years, common knowledge has been that organic food is a much healthier alternative than non-organic food. What a new study suggests may baffle many: organic food is "not any healthier" than regular food you may consume.
Are you forking over an extra few dollars to buy products that claim to be organic in order to improve your health? Don’t bother because it won’t, at least according to a new research study by Stanford University and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care.
When it comes to vitamins and nutrients, organic produce and meat aren’t any better than regular food choices. The only difference is that organic food may reduce exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria and pesticides by approximately 30 percent.
The researchers reviewed more than 200 studies that made the comparison between people who ate organic or conventional foods. The list of organic and non-organic foods included milk, grains, fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry eggs.
By the end of the study, there was no more or less amount of nutrients and vitamins in these organic and regular animal and plant items. However, there was a small difference in the amount of phosphorous in organic products and there were more omega-3 fatty acids in organic chicken and milk.
“Some believe that organic food is always healthier and more nutritious. We were a little surprised that we didn’t find that,” said first author Smith-Spangler, an instructor of medicine at the School of Medicine, in a news release. “Our goal was to shed light on what the evidence is. This is information that people can use to make their own decisions based on their level of concern about pesticides, their budget and other considerations.”
Dena Bravata, the senior author of a paper comparing the nutrition of organic and non-organic foods, in the Annals of Internal Medicine, explained that the findings still benefits consumers because there are still benefits to eating organic, such as taste, environmental farming concerns and animal welfare.
Smith-Spangler added that an individual’s goal should be to incorporate a healthier diet overall, such as fruits and vegetables, instead of focusing on how the food they purchase and consume is grown.
Agreement has been made in the scientific community that further research is needed, especially considering how there have been relatively few studies relating to this issue. “It appears there are a lot of different factors that are important in predicting nutritional quality and harms.”
The research study can be found in the latest edition of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
Sales of organic foods in the United States have soared from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $24.4 billion in 2011.