Organic foods have gained popularity over the last two decades. Organic food seems to be healthier, safer, and tastier. It is environment and animal friendly. But, what is organic food, and how it is beneficial for humans? First, we get to know what is it?
What is organic food?
According to Healthline, organic foods are grown without the use of artificial chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modifies organisms. It is free of artificial food additives which include coloring, flavoring, preservatives, sweeteners, and monosodium glutamate.
Likewise, animals raised organically are not given antibiotics or hormones, organic foods use manure for their growth. It reduces pollution, conserves groundwater, and improve soil quality.
From fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains to processed food like cookies, sodas are in the category of organic food.
Why it is nutrients rich?
Many pieces of evidence suggest that organic foods may contain more nutrients due to food handling and production.
Now, we look at why organic foods are more nutritious.
1. Lower nitrate levels:
The nitrate level of organic crops is found to be less. Studies show that they have 30% less nitrate comparing to others. The high rise of nitrate risks some type of cancer and methemoglobinemia, an infant’s disease that affects the body to carry oxygen.
2. More antioxidants and vitamins:
They contain more micronutrients like Vitamin C, zinc, and iron and a higher level of antioxidants which is up to 69%.
From the study, it is found that organic berries and corn contains 58% more antioxidants and 52% more vitamin C. Replacing the regular fruits and vegetables with organic one can provide you extra antioxidants. It helps you to eat an extra serving.
Organic plants are independent of pesticides to protect themselves and they produce antioxidants for their protection.
3. Organic meat and dairy contain more favorable fatty acid:
The level of Omega-3 fatty acids in organic meat and dairy is slightly high and has more iron, vitamin F, and carotenoids. Also, the level of saturated fats is slightly low.
A higher level of omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
4. These foods contain fewer chemicals and resistant bacteria:
These foods prevent you from exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria and pesticide residues. Studies found that portions of cadmium and toxic metal were 48% low whereas pesticide residues were found 4 times more on non-organic foods.
Organic farming lacks antibiotics in animals thus these foods contain a lower level of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Do organic foods provide health benefits?
According to some research, it has a positive effect on health. One study found that the chickens had stronger immune systems fed by organic diets. It also lowers the risk of allergies and eczema in children and infants.
Higher antioxidants level help from damaging the cells and beneficial for animal’s growth and immune system.
But, one study based on 623,080 women found that the cancer risk remains the same who ate organic and non-organic diet.
Organic junk food
While some product may be labeled as ‘organic’ that doesn’t mean it is healthy like some junk food. Some foods are processed with high sugar, added fat, and salt and they are high in calories.
Like organic cookies, chips, sodas, and ice cream which are easily available but still unhealthy. Avoid these foods to stay healthy and do not go for organic name only.
You can find some products which state that the ingredients present in the product are natural. For example, using a raw cane instead of sugar. But, sugar is still sugar no matter where it came from.
In other words, choosing organic fast food is the same as regular fast food.
How to recognize organic products?
Any farmer or producer selling organic food must comply with the standards imposed by the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA).
Before picking any organic product notice the USDA organic seal. The food label will show you how organic the product is.
1. 100% Organic: Made entirely from organic ingredients
2. Organic: At least 95% of the ingredients are organic
3. Made with Organic: At least 70% of the ingredients are organic
If any product contains less than 70% organic ingredients then the product can’t be labeled as organic and can’t use the USDA seal.
Organic fruits and vegetables
While there are a variety of organic fruits and vegetables, they generally cost more because the pesticides are absent and they take more labor-effort to grow. Also, the crop yield is not always as good as others.
There are some fruits and vegetables which are more susceptible to pesticide residue and should be replaced with organic if you can afford them. They are:
Sweet bell peppers
Some fruits and veggies contain the fewest pesticide residues and do not have to be replaced by organic. They are:
Organic foods are more beneficial for health. They do not contain pesticide residues and are environment friendly. However, before buying an organic product you should check out the label for its purity. Also, do not go for organic junk food as they are similar to regular junk food and not good for health. While they are more costly than regular foods but you should not compromise with health saving some bucks. Stay healthy!
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