Natural food sources have detonated in prevalence throughout the most recent twenty years.
Indeed, US buyers burned through $39.1 billion on natural produce in 2014 (1).
The notoriety doesn’t appear to dial back, as deals expanded by over 11% from 2014 to 2015 (1).
Many individuals think natural food is more secure, better and more delicious than customary food (2).
Others say it’s better for the climate and the prosperity of creatures.
This article unbiasedly thinks about natural and non-natural food varieties, remembering their supplement content and impacts for human wellbeing.
What is Organic Food?
The expression “natural” alludes to the course of how certain food sources are created.
Natural food sources have been developed or cultivated without the utilization of fake synthetic compounds, chemicals, anti-infection agents or hereditarily altered living beings.
To be named natural, a food item should be liberated from counterfeit food added substances.
This incorporates fake sugars, additives, shading, enhancing and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Naturally developed harvests will in general utilize normal composts like excrement to further develop plant development. Creatures raised naturally are likewise not given anti-microbials or chemicals.
Natural cultivating will in general further develop soil quality and the protection of groundwater. It additionally diminishes contamination and might be better for the climate.
The most regularly bought natural food sources are organic products, vegetables, grains, dairy items and meat. These days there are additionally many prepared natural items accessible, for example, soft drinks, treats and breakfast oats.
Studies comparing the nutrient content of organic and non-organic foods have provided mixed results.
This is most likely due to natural variation in food handling and production.
However, evidence does suggest that foods grown organically may be more nutritious.
Organically Grown Crops Have More Antioxidants and Vitamins
Several studies have found that organic foods generally contain higher levels of antioxidants and certain micronutrients, such as vitamin C, zinc and iron .
In fact, antioxidant levels can be up to 69% higher in these foods .
One study also found that organically grown berries and corn contained 58% more antioxidants and up to 52% higher amounts of vitamin C .
What’s more, one study reported that replacing regular fruit, vegetables and cereals with organic versions could provide extra antioxidants in the diet. This was comparable to eating 1-2 extra portions of fruit and vegetables daily .
Organic plants do not rely on chemical pesticide sprays to protect themselves. Instead, they produce more of their own protective compounds, namely antioxidants.
This may partly explain the higher levels of antioxidants in these plants.
Nitrate Levels are Generally Lower
Organically grown crops have also been shown to have lower levels of nitrate. In fact, studies have shown that nitrate levels are 30% lower in these crops .
High nitrate levels are linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer .
They’re also linked to a condition called methemoglobinemia, a disease in infants that affects the body’s ability to carry oxygen .
That being said, many people believe that the harmful effects of nitrates have been overstated. The benefits of eating vegetables far outweigh any negative effects.
Organic Dairy and Meat May Have A More Favorable Fatty Acid Profile
Organic milk and dairy products may contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and slightly higher amounts of iron, vitamin E and some carotenoids .
However, organic milk may contain less selenium and iodine than non-organic milk, two minerals that are essential for health .
A review of 67 studies found that organic meat contained higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and slightly lower levels of saturated fats than conventional meat .
A higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with many health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease.
However, Several Studies Found No Differences
While several studies find organic foods to contain more nutrients, many others have found insufficient evidence to recommend organic over inorganic.
An observational study comparing the nutrient intakes of nearly 4,000 adults consuming either organic or conventional vegetables found conflicting results.
Although a slightly higher intake of certain nutrients was seen in the organic group, this was most likely due to higher overall vegetable consumption .
A review of 55 studies found no differences in the nutrient content of organic versus regular crops, with the exception of lower nitrate levels in organic produce .
Another review of 233 studies found a lack of strong evidence to conclude that organic foods are more nutritious than regular foods .
Nevertheless, it is important to remember that these studies vary quite widely in their results.
This is because the nutrient content of food depends on many factors, such as soil quality, weather conditions and when the crops are harvested.
The composition of dairy products and meat can be affected by differences in animal genetics and animal breed, what the animals eat, the time of year and type of farm.
The natural variations in the production and handling of foods make comparisons difficult. Therefore, the results of these studies must be interpreted with caution.
Many people choose to buy organic food in order to avoid artificial chemicals.
Evidence suggests that consuming these foods may reduce your exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria .
One study found that levels of cadmium, an extremely toxic metal, were 48% lower in organic produce. In addition, pesticide residues were four times more likely to be found in non-organic crops .
It is important to note that the higher levels of cadmium and pesticide residue in conventionally grown produce were still well below safety limits .
However, some experts worry that cadmium can accumulate over time in the body, potentially causing harm. Washing, scrubbing, peeling and cooking food can reduce these chemicals, although it doesn’t always remove them completely .
Nevertheless, evidence suggests that the risk of exposure to pesticide residue in foods is small and unlikely to cause harm .
Since organic farming does not use antibiotics in animals, these products generally contain slightly lower levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
There is some evidence suggesting that organic foods have health benefits.
For example, several lab studies found that their higher antioxidant content helped protect cells from damage. And animal studies show that organic diets may benefit growth, reproduction and the immune system .
One study also reported that chickens fed an organic diet showed reduced weight gain, and had stronger immune systems
Observational studies in humans have linked organic foods to a lower risk of allergies and eczema in children and infants .
A large observational study of 623,080 women found no difference in cancer risk between those who never ate organic food and those who ate it regularly .
Another study found that antioxidant levels were higher in men following an organic diet. However, this study was small and not randomized.
When 16 people followed an organic or conventional diet over two 3-week periods, those on the organic diet had slightly higher levels of certain antioxidants in their urine. Yet this study also had limitations that may have caused the differences
Unfortunately, there’s simply not enough strong evidence available to confirm that organic foods benefit human health more than conventional foods
More high-quality studies are needed.
Just because a product is labeled “organic,” it doesn’t mean that it is healthy.
Some of these products are still processed foods high in calories, sugar, salt and added fats.
For example, organic cookies, chips, sodas and ice cream can all be purchased in supermarkets.
Despite being organic, these products are still unhealthy. So if you are trying to lose weight or eat healthy, you may be harming yourself by eating these foods.
Organic product labels will often state that the ingredients are “natural” — for example, using raw cane sugar instead of plain sugar. However, sugar is still sugar.
The majority of the population consumes too much sugar already. To think it’s healthy to consume lots of organic sugar is simply wrong.
In simple terms, when you choose organic junk food, you may just be choosing a slightly higher-quality version of regular junk food.
However, since regulations generally ban the use of artificial food additives in these foods, buying organic is a good way to avoid a lot of the chemicals that are often added to conventional foods.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set up an organic certification program.
This means any farmer or food producer selling organic food must meet strict government standards.
If you decide to choose organic, it’s important to look for the USDA organic seal.
Also, watch for these statements on food labels, so you can identify food that is truly organically grown:
- 100% Organic: This product is made entirely from organic ingredients.
- Organic: At least 95% of the ingredients in this product are organic.
- Made with Organic: At least 70% of the ingredients are organic.
If a product contains less than 70% organic ingredients, it cannot be labeled organic or use the USDA seal. Similar standards are enforced in Europe, Canada and Australia. Each country or continent has its own seal to help consumers identify organic food.