HealthDay News — Organic produce and grains contain more protective antioxidants, less pesticide residue, and lower levels of the toxic metal cadmium than traditional farming, according to a review in the British Journal of Nutrition.
“Increased public concerns about the negative environmental and health impacts of agrochemicals (pesticides, growth regulators and mineral fertilizers) used in crop production have been major drivers for the increase in consumer demand for organic foods over the last 20 years,” explained Marcin Barański, MD, of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues.
After examining 343 peer-reviewed studies, the researchers found that antioxidant levels were 17% higher in organic crops compared with traditional crops. Levels of some antioxidants, such as flavanones, flavonols, and anthocyanins, were significantly higher in organic crops, reported the investigators.
Cadmium (Cd) levels, on average, were 48% lower in organic crops, although “the exact health benefits associated with reducing Cd intake levels via a switch to organic food consumption are difficult to estimate,” according to the investigators.
Because of limitations of the study, the study authors have acknowledged the need for more research. “It is important to carry out further studies to improve our understanding of differences in the frequency of occurrence and concentrations of pesticide residues between organic and conventional crops,” wrote the researchers.
Disclosure: Sheepdrove Trust, a charity that supports organic farming, provided partial funding for the study.