Can organic food prevent cancer?

organic foodOrganic foods and crops have a suite of advantages over their conventional counterparts, including more antioxidants, fewer, less frequent pesticide residues, and properties that may help prevent cancer, a study suggests. Without the synthetic chemical pesticides applied on conventional crops, organic plants tend to produce more phenols and polyphenols to defend against pest attacks and related injuries, the findings showed. In people, phenols and polyphenols can help prevent diseases triggered or promoted by oxidative-damage like coronary heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.

Overall, organic crops had 18 to 69 percent higher concentrations of antioxidant compounds, the study said. 'This study is telling a powerful story of how organic plant-based foods are nutritionally superior and deliver bona fide health benefits,' said co-author of the study Charles Benbrook, a researcher at Washington State University in the US. The team found that organic crops have several nutritional benefits that stem from the way the crops are produced. A plant on a conventionally managed field will typically have access to high levels of synthetic nitrogen, and will marshal the extra resources into producing sugars and starches. (Read: Why is organic food better for your health?)

As a result, the harvested portion of the plant will often contain lower concentrations of other nutrients, including health-promoting antioxidants. The study looked at an unprecedented 343 peer-reviewed publications comparing the nutritional quality and safety of organic and conventional plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, and grains. The researchers applied sophisticated meta-analysis techniques to quantify differences between organic and non-organic foods. Pesticide residues were three to four times more likely in conventional foods than organic ones, as organic farmers are not allowed to apply toxic, synthetic pesticides. Consumers who switch to organic fruit, vegetables, and cereals would get 20 to 40 percent more antioxidants, the researchers concluded. (Read: Organic food and farming your queries answered)

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The study appeared in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Here are some health benefits of organic food:

Helps you avoid problems caused due to growth hormones in foods

According to nutritionist Naini Setalvad, 'Today growth hormones are injected in fruits, vegetables, pulses, poultry and meat to make them larger and plumper. Humans are consuming these products thereby eating these chemicals too. Research has documented and proven that these hormones and chemicals are what are causing the humongous (obesity) sizes in people today. The chemicals and the preservatives are the cause of psychological disorders, depression, mood swings, hyper activity and irritability that have now become a common phenomenon. Infertility in men, problems in conceiving, early puberty among children as young as eight is another by product of consuming such foods.'

It is richer in nutrients

Organic food has more nutrients, vitamins, mineral, etc. than mass-produced food. This is because the soil is more nourished, which in turn leads to better crops. This in turn leads to healthier produce packed with vitamins and minerals. It's also richer in salicylic acid which is good for your health.

Higher in antioxidant capacity

Various studies have found that organic food is richer in antioxidants. This partly due to the fact the chemicals from pesticides are not interacting with the different vitamins, minerals and organic compounds which are good for you and helps prevent ailments.

Less pesticides means lesser complications

One of the major health benefits of organic food stems from the factthat it doesn't have pesticides. Most pesticides contain chemicals like organophosphorous which has been connected to a number of developmental problems including ADHD and autism; so choosing organic food means that you will prevent your children from consuming toxins that are likely to be bad for them growing up. Read more about Health benefits of organic food

With inputs from IANS

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