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Organic crops have up to 60% more antioxidants

Wednesday, 9 March 2016  |  Editor

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Organic crops really do have more health benefits

A landmark study by Newcastle University has shown that organic vegetables, fruit and cereals have significantly higher levels of antioxidants and lower levels of dangerous heavy metals than crops non-organic produce.

The range of health benefits of antioxidants is far reaching, and even more so in the summer: many plant-based antioxidants have been shown to help protect the skin against sun damage and sunburn. Summer is also a time when many vegetables and fruit varieties are in season, and so when organic produce is often more widely available and at its cheapest.

This new research flies in the face of previous Food Standards Agency (FSA) claims that organic foods have no significant benefit. Lead researcher Carlo Leifert puts this down to the fact that the Newcastle review study looked at 343 peer-reviewed studies on crop content, compared to the 46 publications that contributed to the FSA’s  claims. Leifert explains, “We have far more data available to us now than five years ago.”

He adds, “The organic vs non-organic debate has rumbled on for decades now but the evidence from this study is overwhelming – that organic food is high in antioxidants and lower in toxic metals and pesticides.”

Cadmium levels, for example, were on average 48% lower in organic crops. Cadmium is one of only 3 heavy metals, alongside lead and mercury, for which the European Commission has set maximum permitted contamination levels. Diet is the main source of cadmium contamination for non-smokers, with cadmium found in high levels in wheat and therefore bread. High cadmium intake has been linked to kidney problems, cancer, osteoporosis and skeletal problems.

As might be expected, the study also found that pesticide residues were four times more likely in non-organic crops than organic ones. On the basis of this evidence one can assume that there are many greater health benefits to eating organic fruit and vegetables.