How Healthy is Organic Food?
Organic food is a big hit these days among most healthy living enthusiasts for its supposed health benefits.
For all those of you who love to buy organic food, here is some food for thought.
Researchers from the Stanford University recently conducted a detailed analysis of the health benefits of organic food and came to the conclusion that there is little to suggest that organic food is healthier than conventionally grown food.
These researchers carefully studied 237 most relevant research papers published on organic food till date.
The comprehensive metaanalysis was conducted under the expert guidance of Crystal Smith Spangler and Dena Bravata, both of whom work at Stanford’s Center for Health Policy. All this because the researchers were as keen as we are to know how healthy is organic food as compared to conventionally grown food.
Health Benefits of organic food
While the researchers made it clear that their aim was not to discourage people from buying organic food but only to enable them to see the truth, quite a few myths about the supposed health benefits of organic foods were shattered as a result of this study.
The researchers, after a series of tests and experiments came to the following conclusions:
• Phosphorus, one of the essential nutrients required by us, was significantly higher in foods which were organically grown.
• Consuming organic food was also found to reduce pesticide exposure significantly. The findings of this study were published in the medical journal ‘Annals of Internal Medicine’. This report clearly mentioned that though organic food is 30% less likely to be laced with pesticides as compared to conventional fruits and vegetables, this does not suggest that organic foods were completely free of pesicides.
• A senior author of the study, Dena Bravata, pointed out that organic chicken and pork “may reduce exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, though there is not much difference between organic and conventional foods if you’re an adult and making a decision based solely on your health”.
• There is no difference in the protein or fat content between organic and conventional milk.
• There are no ‘consistent’ differences in the vitamin content of organic foods as well.
Organic Food and Pesticides/ Pesticides in Organic Foods
While organic foods do not hold much of an edge over conventionally grown food when it comes to nutritional value of foods thus grown, the correlation between organic food and pesticides content in foods was found to be too strong to be brushed aside. the low content of pesticides in organic food give it a definite edge!
Dr. Ritika Samaddar, a renowned dietitian from New Delhi, also agreed with the findings of the study.She stated without mincing any words that the medical fraternity had never believed organic food to be more nutrient rich than conventionally grown foods. The higher costs of organic food, according to her, was the main reason of its limited appeal among the masses. As far as cancer causing insecticides and pesticides present in conventionally grown food are concerned, they could be gotten rid of by washing these foods thoroughly before eating them.
While the results of this study are significant Indian experts believe otherwise. This is partly because of the fact that pesticides usage patterns in India and other developing countries are hugely different from those followed in USA and the developed countries.
Given the relatively low use of pesticides in these countries, organic food might not hold a significant edge over conventionally grown food in those countries. With poor regulatory environment in India and similar countries, health benefits of organic food are definitely worth the high price these products command. The low levels of pesticides in organic food makes it extremely popular among those who can afford it, and those who do not mind shelling out a few extra nickles to avoid foods laden with pesticides.
We hope that you will be able to make a better choice when you pick up your grocery, milk and dairy requirements now that you know about the health benefits of organic food and know how healthy is organic food!!