Is Organic Healthier? Finally, the Scientific Answer!

Nutrition // Natasha Dickins // 28 August 2014

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If someone mentions organic do you immediately get the guilts about your grocery-buying habits? Whether it’s from overspending ‘for the taste’ or from choosing the cheapest option ‘to stay on budget’, at 12WBT we know that the concept of ‘going organic’ comes with a host of health, nutrition and cost questions.

You’ve heard this before: organic food is tastier, it leaves a smaller eco footprint, uses less pesticides, has less toxic packaging, is kinder to the earth, comes in nicer colours… and costs more, can be harder to get hold of and is sometimes covered in dirt.

These pros and cons are pretty obvious so, tastebuds and wallets aside, what about scientific answers to the question: Is organic healthier?

Out rockstar 12WBT dietitian Chantelle Curtis-Latchford weighs up the costs of going organic.

If you were to look at all the research out there that tests metal traces and toxin levels in fruit and veggies, you’d get an organic-size headache!

One way of making sense of all the information is to look for meta-analysis – this is research that researches all the research (phew!) and combines all the studies and statistics to come up with a few good averages.

Here’s a great example. According to a UK meta-analysis of 343 studies, organic crops and crop-based foods are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally grown crops. While it’s no surprise, it IS nice to know it’s scientifically proven.

According to the British Journal of Nutrition, the same meta-analysis shows lower levels of toxic heavy metals including cadmium, in organic crops – as much as 5% lower!

“Although most people’s intake of cadmium in conventional foods is below that associated with any health risk, this is one area where organic foods may have a larger margin of safety,” says Dr Ian Musgrave from the School of Medicine Sciences at the University of Adelaide, SA.

So, if antioxidants are high on your must-have list, and keeping toxic metals out of your diet is a priority, you now have scientific proof that organic produce ticks those boxes.

Whether you go organic or not, the 12WBT recipes are the same. So take the hard work out of planning daily menus for a healthy, balanced diet and sign up now!

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Guest Reply

    How disappointing to read such a simplified and misleading post on 12WBT (a program which I am currently participating in, and love).

    You correctly list the findings of the study, but without context they mean nothing. If you had taken an extra five minutes to read the expert opinions on the study from two Australian professors (on the link that you provided!), you would have discovered that the antioxidant boost is only found in some foods and is likely not enough to be nutritionally significant, and the heavy metal traces in conventional food is still well below the limit where it would cause damage. (Not to mention that if organic food was really what it claims to be, it should have ZERO metal traces, not just less).

    You’ve potentially made thousands of mothers feel guilty for not being able to afford organic food for their children, when in fact there is still no proven, significant health benefit. There are many other things that are scientifically proven to have significant benefits, that parents should be spending their precious money on instead (education, sport, music etc.).

    I’ve been really impressed with some of the interpretations of scientific findings throughout the 12WBT program, but this was very disappointing.

  2. Guest Reply

    How disappointing to read such a simplified and misleading post on 12WBT (a program which I am currently participating in, and love).

    You correctly list the findings of the study, g. If you had taken an extra five minutes to read the expert opinions on the study from two Australian professors (on the link that you provided!), you would have discovered that the antioxidant boost is only found in some foods and is likely not enough to be nutritionally significant, and the heavy metal traces in conventional food is still well below the limit where it would cause damage. (Not to mention that if organic food was really what it claims to be, it should have ZERO metal traces, not just less).

    You’ve potentially made thousands of mothers feel guilty for not being able to afford organic food for their children, when in fact there is still no proven, significant health benefit. There are many other things that are scientifically proven to have significant benefits, that parents should be spending their precious money on instead (education, sport, music etc.).

    I’ve been really impressed with some of the interpretations of scientific findings throughout the 12WBT program, but this was very disappointing.

  3. EllenLJO Reply

    How disappointing to read such a simplified and misleading post on 12WBT (a program which I am currently participating in, and love).

    You correctly list the findings of the study, but then ignore the context of them when making your sweeping conclusion. The expert opinions on the study from two Australian professors clearly explain that the antioxidant boost is only found in some foods and is likely not enough to be nutritionally significant, and the heavy metal traces in conventional food is still well below the limit where it would cause damage. (Not to mention that if organic food was really what it claims to be, it should have ZERO metal traces, not just less).

    You’ve potentially made thousands of mothers feel guilty for not being able to afford organic food for their children, when in fact there is still no proven, significant health benefit. There are many other things that are scientifically proven to have significant benefits, that parents should be spending their precious money on instead (education, sport, music etc.).

    I’ve been really impressed with some of the interpretations of scientific findings throughout the 12WBT program, but this was very disappointing.

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