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New Study Shows More Antioxidants in Organic Crops

New Study Shows More Antioxidants in Organic Crops

UNITED KINGDOM – A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that organic crops contain up to 60% more antioxidants than conventionally grown ones.

Newcastle University led a team of international experts in this study.  They analyzed 343 peer-reviewed studies on the compositional differences between organic and conventional crops.  A press release from Newcastle University said that the team discovered a change to eating organic fruit, vegetables and cereals or foods made from them provide additional antioxidants equivalent to eating between 1-2 extra portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

The study also shows significantly lower levels of toxic heavy metals in organic crops.  Cadmium, one of only three metal contaminants which the European Commission has set maximum permitted contamination levels in food, has almost 50% lower levels in organic crops.

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.  This constitutes an important addition to the information currently available to consumers which until now has been confusing and in many cases is conflicting.”

The researchers also found pesticide residues were three to four times less likely in organic foods.  Charles Benbrook, a Washington State University researcher and the lone American co-author of the study, said, “This study is telling a powerful story of how organic plant-based foods are nutritionally superior and deliver bona fide health benefits.”

The Newcastle release also states that these results contradict those of a 2009 UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) commissioned study that found no substantial differences or significant nutritional benefits from organic food.  The FSA study made its conclusions on only 46 publications about crops, meat and dairy, while Newcastle based its data from 343 peer-reviewed publications on composition differences between organic and conventional crops.

Professor Leifert, Professor of Ecological Agriculture at Newcastle University, said, “The main difference between the two studies is time.  Research in this area has been slow to take off the ground and we have far more data available to us now than five years ago.”

Additionally, Dr. Gavin Stewart, a Lecturer in Evidence Synthesis and the meta-analysis expert in the Newcastle team, added, “The much larger evidence base available in this synthesis allowed us to use more appropriate statistical methods to draw more definitive conclusitions regarding the differences between organic and conventional crops.”

The authors of this study welcome the continued public and scientific debate on this important subject. The entire database generated and used for this analysis is freely available on the Newcastle University website for the benefit of other experts and interested members of the public.