Are Organic Foods Really Better for You?

Are Organic Foods Really Better for You? 

By Ellen Kittredge 

This is a very relevant question to ask when deciding how to spend your food budget. Frequently, though not always, organic foods cost more than non-organic or conventionally raised foods. Is the higher price really worth it? 

Improving your health is only one reason to buy organic, more importantly,  according to a recent Washington State University study, which looked at the nutritional differences between organic and conventional strawberries, it seems organic really is a better choice. 

Researchers tested 26 commercial strawberry operations in the state of California over a period of two years to reach the conclusion that organic strawberries really are better for you. Specifically, they found that the organic strawberries had significantly higher concentrations of antioxidants and vitamin C. 

Researchers were also surprised to find that the organic fruit lasted about a half-day longer than conventional strawberries. They had expected the conventional strawberries to have a longer shelf life, but this was not the case. 

Released in September, the study focused on just one food, while previous research has confirmed the health benefits of organic produce.

Evidence cited in the Washington State University study seems to corroborate the findings in a March 2008 survey of published research on organic foods. According to the report, “New Evidence Confirms the Nutritional Superiority of Plant-Based Organic Foods,” which examined 97 published studies since 1980, “organic plant-based foods are, on average, more nutritious.” The review was published by the Organic Center, a nonprofit research group dedicated to publishing peer-reviewed studies demonstrating the benefits of organic foods.

In this review of the published studies, the researchers looked at:

• four measures of antioxidants (total phenolics, total antioxidant capacity, quercetin and kaempferol);

• three precursors of key vitamins A, C and E;

• two minerals (potassium and phosphorous);

• nitrates (higher levels are a nutritional disadvantage);

• total protein. 

They found that the organic foods within these matched pairs were nutritionally superior in 145 matched pairs, or 61 percent of the cases. 

So, next time you are looking at the price tag, and trying to determine whether or not you should put a certain item in your basket, think of the evidence, and remember that you really are getting your money’s worth. 

Ellen Kittredge is a nutrition and health counselor practicing in Annapolis and Bethesda, who helps her clients experience real and lasting weight loss, eliminate cravings, gain more energy, and improve overall health and well-being. She can be contacted at www.ellenkittredge.com

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