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Are Organic Foods Needed For A Healthy Diet?

Thursday, December 1, 2016 11:37
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Health is usually something we take for granted until we’re at a higher risk of developing some disease or health condition. It’s not uncommon for people who’re diagnosed with some health issue to regret not paying attention to their overall wellbeing earlier. In order to keep your weight in a healthy range and to boost your health, it’s necessary to stay physically active and eat healthy foods. Organic foods are dubbed as mandatory for a healthy diet, and it’s claimed they have higher nutritional content than conventional items. But is that correct? Does only organic food count as healthy? You’ll find answers in this article.

What is, actually, organic?
First things first, it’s important to clarify what organic means. The term organic refers to the manner farmers grow and process agricultural products such as grains, fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products. Until the October 2002, states followed different rules and regulations regarding organic foods. Now, organic products are grown and processed under strict national standards set by the US Department of Agriculture.

Contrary to popular belief, producing organic food isn’t as simple as it seems and in order to earn the label, foods have to meet a multitude of criteria, including:

  • Produced without conventional pesticides, including herbicides
  • No synthetic fertilizers
  • No sewage sludge
  • No ionizing radiation etc.

When it comes to meat, requirements dictate that it should come from animals who weren’t fed growth hormones and antibiotics.

Is organic food safer for consumption?
One of the most common questions and concerns regarding organic products is whether they’re safer for consumption. The best diet plan is the one that contains an abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and so on, but lately, we see a rise of recommendations to opt for organic alternatives rather than conventional due to safety and nutritional content.

Your chances of getting pesticides residues are significantly lower if you consume organic foods. The Consumers Union conducted a large-scale study and found that organically grown crops had about one-third as many pesticide residues as conventionally grown crops. Their findings also showed that organic products were highly unlikely to contain residues of more than one pesticide.

Organic product consumption advocates usually go so far to suggest that conventional products are extremely harmful to one health. That’s not the case. The same study also revealed that human-made pesticide residues in conventional foods are well below the amount that Environmental Protection Agency deemed unsafe. Of course, there’s the issue over accumulation of these residues over the years, but that’s the question that science still has to answer.

Regarding safety, even the organic foods could pose a threat to human health. Because this type of production stays away from usage of herbicides, insecticides, etc. these crops are usually affected by pests and weeds to a greater degree than conventional counterparts. As a result, they may produce more natural toxins.

Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that in the “safety” department both organic and conventional foods have their strengths or weaknesses. But, what about the nutritional content?

Is organic food more nutritious?
The body needs a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and healthy nutrients to stay healthy and ward off numerous diseases. It also requires high fiber diet to regulate digestion and maintain your weight. The question is: will you get more of these nutrients from organic or conventional food?

At this point, a single answer to this issue doesn’t exist. For example, according to a study carried about by scientists at the Newcastle University, organic food has higher antioxidant content than conventional food. In fact, the amount of antioxidants is equivalent to “one to two of the five portions of fruits and vegetables recommended for daily consumption.”

On the other hand, a research whose findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionfound no evidence of a difference in nutrient quality between organically and conventionally produced foods. Furthermore, a team of scientists at the Stanford Universitycarried out a study which revealed that there isn’t much difference between these two types of foods. Additionally, the research team found no differences in vitamin content, but they did discover that organic foods had higher levels of one mineral – phosphorus.

Scientists explain that not enough funds are invested into studies on this topic, but they encourage the general public to eat fresh food, fruits, and vegetables, on a daily basis.

Conclusion
The well-known battle between organic and conventional foods is still not over. Both types of foods have their advantages and disadvantages. Studies are inconclusive about their nutritional content and while some discovered that organic foods are, indeed, more nutritious, others showed no evidence of that. All these findings prove that eating healthy doesn’t necessarily require food to be organic. If you can’t afford those foods, then opt for conventional foods and go for organic only when choosing items that are well-known for higher pesticide residue. The choice is yours!

References
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/organic-food-better#1

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/11/organic-food-more-antioxidants-study

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