Are Organic Foods Healthier?05.08.22
You may have noticed in the fruit and vegetable aisle of the supermarket that some items are significantly more expensive than the rest. These are the organic foods.
Organic produce has been highlighted as superior to its non-organic counterparts, with many raving about their health benefits and impact on the environment. However, there has been little research to prove that organic foods are any better for the majority of us.
What are organic foods?
Organic items are foods that have been produced without hormones, artificial chemicals, antibiotics or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These products have been farmed or grown. They also need to be free from preservatives, colourings and flavourings.
More commonly fruit and vegetables that are grown organically, but other produce can be classed as organic, such as:
Meat and dairy products have to be free from pesticides and growth hormones. The animals should be free to graze and eat from natural resources. As a general rule of thumb, if the item has one ingredient then it is possible for it to be organic. However, other foods such as chocolate and drinks can also be deemed organic as long as over 70% of the ingredients have been produced organically.
What are the health benefits of organic foods?
Although the chemicals and pesticides used for farming have been approved and met the government standards, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t the chance that they could be detrimental to people’s health. Studies have shown that pesticides could contribute to ADHD in children and a lower sperm count in men, but this is not definite.
Organic foods use natural fertiliser and manure to help crops grow. They also use more traditional methods for controlling pests such as traps and natural pesticides.
No antibiotics or hormones
Farmers often use antibiotics to stop disease and illness in their livestock. This is certainly the case for animals that are kept indoors in close proximity where disease is easily spread. In the US, there are less rules in regard to the use of growth hormones in livestock, whereas it is banned in the EU.
Traces of antibiotics can be passed onto the consumer which may be contributing to antibiotic resistance across the globe. This means that antibiotic treatment that is crucial to life is becoming less effective. There have been other studies to suggest that hormones used in farming could increase the risk of certain cancers.
More healthy fats
In terms of dairy and meat, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition has shown that organic products could have 50% more omega 3 fatty acids than non-organic products. These are the healthy, non-saturated fats that can help to lower blood pressure. Although there is no definitive reason, scientists believe it is because of the way they are raised. Organic animals are more likely to spend time outdoors and live on a grass-fed diet.
Is buying organic worth it?
Although there are a range of potential benefits, none come with enough solid scientific evidence to be definitive. With this in mind, the best thing to do is take it case by case and choose what is best for you. If you are looking to make a greater impact on the environment then you might choose to purchase organic products. Likewise, if you want to reduce the chances of antibiotic resistance then this might be another reason to eat organic produce.
That being said, organic foods are substantially more expensive than their non-organic counterparts and come with no solid health benefits. It might be that just increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is enough to improve your health. Especially with the current cost of living crisis, it’s possible that your money is best spent improving your health in other ways.
by Eryn Barber
Eryn is a content writer who specialises in health and fitness articles. When she’s not writing, Eryn is helping people improve their strength and overall health as a Personal Trainer and is currently undertaking her Msc in Strength & Conditioning. You’ll usually find Eryn out on the trails running when she isn’t working.