Nowadays, organic foods have become a trend, not only can you find them in natural and organic food stores, but they are becoming more frequent in most supermarkets.
But are organic foods better than conventional ones? What are the benefits of eating them? Are organic foods really good for your health? In this article we will learn about the advantages of consuming them and we will elucidate all these significant doubts so that you can make the best decision when buying your organic food.
What is organic food?
Before knowing the benefits of organic food, let's first explain what it means for a food to be “organic”.
The term "organic" refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products. There are regulations for planting these products which vary from one country to another.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a food to be organic it must be produced in the following way:
· Without using most conventional pesticides, only naturally-derived pesticides or fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or septic sludge.
· Natural fertilizers such as manure or compost are allowed, and crop rotation, manual weeding, or plowing is used to control weeds.
· Bioengineering and ionizing radiation should not be used.
· Organic livestock should receive food of organic origin, they should not be given antibiotics, growth hormones or any food derived from animals.
· Only previously approved vaccines are allowed.
· Livestock diseases are naturally prevented with good hygiene, rotational grazing, a healthy diet, and access to the outdoors.
Organic foods can include unprocessed or refined fruits, vegetables, dairy products, fish, and meats.
There are guidelines for a food to be labeled as "100% organic", it must first have been verified and certified by competent personnel who will demand that all the established norms regarding cultivation, handling, processing and commercialization are met.
It is also possible to find multi-ingredient foods that are labeled "organic" (without 100%) and this means that only 95% of the ingredients that make it up have been approved as organic.
You should not confuse the term organic with natural, when a food is labeled "natural" it means that it has no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, but it does not refer to the method in which the food is produced.
Benefits of organic food
Organic foods have many advantages for your health and the environment compared to those grown conventionally. There are several studies that have shown its benefits, although the information is still limited and highly debated.
· Studies (1) have shown that the concentrations of antioxidants such as polyphenolics are substantially higher in organic crops and contain lower concentrations of toxic metals such as cadmium, mainly in grains. These antioxidants reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as CVD, neurodegenerative diseases, and even certain types of cancer.
· Organic meats, dairy, and eggs generally have higher levels of omega-3 (2) fatty acids, which improve cardiovascular health.
· The investigations have shown that consumption of organic foods can reduce exposure to pesticide residues such as fungicides, herbicides and insecticides compared to conventionally grown produce and organic meats have less presence of bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
· Studies on the nutrients provided by organic foods vary, however, a review of several articles showed that organic foods provide higher levels of vitamins C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. In addition, it has been proven that the consumption of organic dairy products has benefits for the skin by reducing allergic dermatitis.
· Organic farming is better for the environment because it does not use fertilizers or herbicides or toxic chemicals, therefore organic farms do not pollute nearby soil or water.
· Chemicals from conventional farms are implicated in the death of birds (3) such as swallows, sparrows, and others. Furthermore, neonicotinoid insecticides are also blamed for being a risk to bees.
Organic food is a way to produce nutritious food without negatively affecting the health of farmers, the environment, or consumers.
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