Does organic food bring added health benefits?

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Atherosclerosis

The benefits of conventionally grown produce over organic foods was
the focus of a recent debate between food technologists with
scientists warning it is too early to reach conclusions, despite
new research that suggests some organic produce could have added
health benefits.

Meeting at the Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting in Las Vegas two weeks ago, Alyson Mitchell, a food chemist at University of California at Davis reported that she had found organic tomatoes had higher levels of secondary plant metabolites and higher levels of vitamin C.

"In looking at the (California) supermarket varieties of broccoli, we also found significantly higher levels of the flavonoids in organic broccoli,"​ said Mitchell, reported the IFT​.

Flavonoids, metabolites known to act in the body as antioxidants and found in a variety of plants, have been shown to promote several beneficial effects in the cardiovascular system, including decreasing oxidation of LDL cholesterol, inhibiting aggregation of blood platelets (which contributes to the risk of blood clots that produce stroke and heart attack); and decreasing the body's inflammatory immune responses, which contribute to atherosclerosis.

According to the report, Mitchell added: "It is recognised that high-intensity agricultural practices can disrupt the natural production of secondary metabolites involved in plant defense mechanisms."

The study author said her findings add to a small body of literature that suggests higher levels of antioxidants exist in some organic produce.

A recently published online fact sheet​ called 'Organic foods in relation to nutrition and health key facts'​ discusses recent research and findings on this issue. The fact sheet is a summary of an article written by James Cleeton, at the UK's Soil Association and published in 'Coronary and Diabetic Care in the UK 2004' by the Association of Primary Care Groups and Trusts (UK).

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