Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Organic Farming Can Increase Antioxidant Levels

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Organic Farming Can Increase Antioxidant Levels

Article excerpt

The Organic Center's second State of Science Review concludes that organic farming methods have the potential to elevate average antioxidant levels, especially in fresh produce.

Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., compiled and analyzed existing scientific information for his report, "Elevating Antioxidant Levels Through Organic Farming and Food Processing." The report reveals that, on average, antioxidant levels were about 30 percent higher in organic food than in conventional food grown under the same conditions.

The report's findings are particularly useful for consumers who wish to consume higher levels of antioxidants in fresh fruits and vegetables without additional caloric intake. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) is currently recommending higher daily intakes of fruits and vegetables, especially those that are antioxidant-rich.

The report's tables include rankings of common foods according to their total antioxidant capacity per calorie and per typical serving. Consumers who seek out foods high in antioxidant content can meet recommended antioxidant intake levels with less than 10 percent of their daily caloric intake.

"Because of the many potential health benefits associated with antioxidant consumption, increasing average daily antioxidant intake through the diet has emerged as an important health goal," says Dr. Benbrook. "This goal was a major factor shaping the new U.S.D.A. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which increase the average recommended intake of fruits and vegetables to at least nine servings per day from the original five. By generating higher concentrations of antioxidants in fresh produce and other organic foods, organic farming can help people increase their daily consumption of antioxidants without a proportional increase in calories."

This report reviews, among other data, 15 quantitative comparisons of antioxidant levels in organic versus conventional fruit and vegetables. Organically grown produce demonstrated higher levels in 13 of 15 cases. The organic crops contained about one-third higher antioxidant or phenolic content than comparable conventional produce.

Several studies found levels of specific vitamins, flavonoids, or antioxidants in organic foods to be two or three times the level found in matched samples of conventional foods. In studies making direct comparisons of levels of antioxidants in organic versus conventional produce, higher levels are often found in organic produce, but the converse is rarely true. …

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