Study sheds new light on organic fruit and vegetables

May 27, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Organic fruit and vegetables contain on average 12 per cent more health-promoting compounds than conventionally grown produce, scientists at Newcastle University have found.

The study, published in the academic journal Critical Reviews in , reveals that organic crops contain significantly higher levels of secondary metabolites - compounds that are believed to protect us against a range of diseases including - than conventionally-grown crops.



The team, based in the university's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, reviewed all the published research on secondary metabolites and vitamin C in fruits and vegetables produced using organic or conventional methods.



Secondary metabolites are said to help guard against cancer, diabetes and heart disease and include alkaloids, carotenoids and salicylates as well as polyphenols such as tannins, flavanones and resveratrol.

Study lead Dr. Kirsten Brandt explains: "Organic and conventional production methods result in small but highly significant differences in composition of fruits and vegetables.

"We therefore used these foods for a preliminary study designed to generate discussion about methodology in the scientific community.

"We made the assumption that increasing the content of biologically active compounds by 12 per cent would be equivalent to increasing your daily intake of and veg by the same amount.

"Using an existing model for calculating the benefits to health of increasing the consumption of vegetables and fruits, we calculated that switching from conventional to organic fruits and , without changing the amount consumed, could result in estimated average increases in life expectancy of 17 days for women and 25 days for men."

Dr. Brandt adds: "There is increasing interest in how organic farming affects the composition of foods compared with conventional agriculture."  Further work is being carried out by the team in this area.

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Provided by Newcastle University

4.5 /5 (13 votes)

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Na_Reth
1 / 5 (1) May 27, 2011
A human can basically live on fruit and nuts and fish. Why are we still eating cattle, egg products etc.? The former returns much more nutrients for the same resources used. AND if we grow these products in controlled environments we could possibly grow them as much as wheat or even more, and they become cheap to grow. Also you would not need to drink or eat milk products anymore because you get the healthy fat from fruit and fish and healthy sugars and a variety of nuts can give you the necessarily protein along with a little from the fish.. Just drinking water should be fine.
blazingspark
4 / 5 (1) May 28, 2011
1. I think people like variety.
2. Eating fish all the time will put too much mercury in your diet (the animals higher up in the food chain accumulate mercury - shark, salmon, tuna, and humans)
3. The fat in cows milk is chemically the same fat we use in our bodies for energy storage.
4. So called "Healthy Sugars" from fruits? I suppose you never heard of high fructose corn syrup? Sugars all have similar physiological effects except fructose can be worse if you have too much of it.
5. All the worlds population can not use fish as a practical food source.
kevinrtrs
3 / 5 (2) May 28, 2011
Agree with most of your point blazingspark. Just the bit about high fructose syrup rings a bit hollow. The makeup of fruit does protect against the dangers of pure fructose syrup.
But then like you said, the body needs more than just fructose which is why there's all kinds of grains and pulses too.
Dug
1 / 5 (1) May 28, 2011
This article is a perfect example of the state of "nutrition science" or actually the lack thereof. Organic farming can't control micro-nutrient input - which is the obvious determining factor of any possible output. Please note on this same page the article in the side bar - that totally contradicts this one. "Organic onions, carrots and potatoes do not have higher levels of healthful antioxidants." Organic farming techniques unless done on a highly analytical basis have no assurance of providing the necessary micro-nutrients to allow plants to increase their nutritional out put over limited nutrient chemical fertilizers used in standard farming. The solution is not "organic farming", but better micro-nutrient support of the current NPK formulations that supply 85% of the world's food. The article is junk science at best and it's insignificant longevity conclusions are wholly based on extrapolations, not reproducible results and assume that all "organic" produce is somehow equal.
Na_Reth
3 / 5 (1) May 28, 2011
1. I think people like variety.
2. Eating fish all the time will put too much mercury in your diet (the animals higher up in the food chain accumulate mercury - shark, salmon, tuna, and humans)
3. The fat in cows milk is chemically the same fat we use in our bodies for energy storage.
4. So called "Healthy Sugars" from fruits? I suppose you never heard of high fructose corn syrup? Sugars all have similar physiological effects except fructose can be worse if you have too much of it.
5. All the worlds population can not use fish as a practical food source.

I strongly disagree with you. In a lot of areas luxury food products are not an option, as they do not have the resources. Fish can be breed in controlled environments meaning no mercury. Same with nuts and fruit, also no chemical fertilizer is needed because you can use the controlled environment as a waste processing utility at the same time.

The engineering is all in my head.