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60-Second Health

Organic Benefits Don't Include Enhanced Nutrition

Produce grown organically cuts pesticide use and the promotion of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. But nutrient levels appear similar to conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. Katherine Harmon reports

Organic food options are often a pretty penny more than their conventionally produced counterparts. And they have often been touted as better for you as well as the environment.

But if you're looking for extra nutrients you might not be getting them, according to a new review paper in Annals of Internal Medicine. [Crystal Smith-Spangler et al., Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review]

Researchers analyzed results from 237 strong studies looking for health differences between the two types of food—and didn't find much.

Only 17 of the studies were in humans, and they did not include any long-term follow-ups of their subjects.

One study did find that children on an organic diet had smaller traces of pesticides in their bodies. And although pesticide amounts were below current acceptable U.S. levels, many health experts contest that pesticide exposure limits are still too high.

Organic methods might also cut down on antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

So going organic might be more a personal choice about supporting that form of farming than about specific health benefits. And the most important health choice, it seems, is to stop dallying over produce labels and just eat it—at least five servings a day.

—Katherine Harmon

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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