Monday, September 3, 2012

Food for Thought

Study: Organic Food No Better Than Conventional Food

TORONTO, Sept 4  -- Are expensive organic food healthier and more nutritious? A study published Monday suggests maybe not.

American researchers have concluded that there is no real difference in nutritional value or risk for bacterial contamination between organic and conventional foods.

The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a journal of the American College of Physicians (ACP).

"Some believe that organic food is always healthier and more nutritious. My colleagues and I were a little surprised that we didn't find that," said lead author Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler of Stanford School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.

ACP said researchers conducted a review of 17 human studies and 223 studies of nutrient and contaminant levels in unprocessed foods to compare the health, nutritional and safety characteristics of organic and conventional foods.

"They found that the published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods," the group said in a release.

It noted that some organic foods contained higher levels of phenols, a compound that may have antioxidant properties, and that organic milk and chicken contained higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

"However, the researchers concluded that since few people have phosphorous deficiency, the finding has little clinical significance," ACP said.

It noted that sales of organic food have increased dramatically in the United States in the past few years. Between 1997 and 2010, organic food sales have risen from US$3.6 billion to over US$26 billion annually.

Prices vary, but consumers my pay up to twice as much for organic food versus conventional, ACP said.