Is Organic Food Really Better For You?

By Amir Khan on September 4, 2012 11:18 AM EDT

Tomato
Organic food costs more, but is it really better for you? According to a new study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, it's not. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Organic food costs more, but is it really better for you? According to a new study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, it's not. Researchers found that organic foods have little more, if any, nutritional benefit over traditional foods and contain similar amounts of pesticides.

"When we began this project, we thought that there would likely be some findings that would support the superiority of organics over conventional food," Dr. Dena Bravata, study author and a senior research affiliate at Stanford, told the New York Times. "I think we were definitely surprised."

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Researchers from Stanford University analyzed 237 studies that compared organic and traditional foods, and found that children who consumed organic foods did have lower levels of pesticides and insecticides in their urine. However, regardless of diet, levels of those chemicals were very small, and one study said that household use of those chemicals was a more likely culprit than the foods they ate.

Some studies have indicated that even trace amounts of pesticides could be dangerous, but researchers said not to look at organic foods to avoid them.

"Parents with young children should consider where their produce is coming from," Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told the Associated Press.

DeWaal said to look for fruits and vegetables grown in the USA and Canada.

Organic produce has grown quickly over the past few years. Sales increased 12 percent last year, up to 12.4 billion, compared to 2010, according to the New York Times.

Researchers did find one difference between organic and traditional foods when it comes to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Both organic and traditional foods have a similar risk of being bacterially contaminated, but bacteria on non-organic meats had a 33 percent higher risk of being resistant to multiple antibiotics.

"There are many reasons why someone might choose organic foods over conventional foods," Bravata said. But when it comes to individual health, "there isn't much difference."

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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