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[SANET-MG] Press Release: Organic Center Report Indicates Organic Foods Have Elevated Levels of Antioxidants

Press Release:

Organic Center Report Indicates Organic Foods Have Elevated Levels

Certain Organic Farming and Food Processing Techniques Can Increase
Antioxidant Levels

FOSTER, R.I. January 26, 2005 — The Organic Center's second State of
Science Review (SSR) concludes that organic farming methods have the
potential to elevate average antioxidant levels, especially in fresh
Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., compiled and analyzed existing scientific
for his report, Elevating Antioxidant Levels Through Organic Farming and
Processing. The report reveals that on average, antioxidant levels were
30 percent higher in organic food compared to conventional food grown under
the same conditions. An executive summary and the entire report can be
at: http://www.organic-center.org/science.htm?articleid=54.

The report’s findings are particularly useful for consumers who wish to
higher levels of antioxidants in fresh fruits and vegetables, without
additional caloric
intake. The USDA is currently recommending higher daily intake of fruits
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 Benbrook. “This goal was a major
factor shaping the new USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which
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
increase in calories.”

This report reviews, among other data, 15 quantitative comparisons of
levels in organic versus conventional fruit and vegetables. Organically
produce had higher levels in 13 out of 15 cases. On average, the organic
contained about one-third higher antioxidant and/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
of levels of antioxidants in organic versus conventional produce, higher
levels are
often found in organic produce but the converse is rarely true.

Organic farming techniques can increase antioxidant content

A wide range of factors can influence the mix of antioxidants that a
plant manufactures,
as well as the levels the plant produces at any given point. In general,
factors that
impose stress on plants tend to trigger a plant’s innate defense
mechanisms and
these mechanisms are driven by and/or entail the synthesis of antioxidants.

Studies reviewed in this SSR provide evidence that several core
practices on organic
fruit and vegetable farms — use of compost, cover crops, slow release
forms of nitrogen
— can increase antioxidant and polyphenol content compared to
conventional practices
that depend on commercial fertilizers and pesticides. The prohibition of
pesticides in
organic farming practices provides additional benefits to consumers who
choose organic.

“Harvesting fruits and vegetables at optimal ripeness and consuming them in
less-processed forms, without removing skins or peals, will preserve a
greater portion
of their antioxidants, “says Benbrook. “The outer layers of fruits and
vegetables generally
contain the highest concentrations of antioxidants, but many consumers
peal their
conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables to help reduce levels of
pesticide residues.
Seeking out organic produce can therefore deliver a dual benefit to
consumers by
maximizing antioxidant intake and minimizing pesticide dietary exposure.”

Organic processing methods may also increase antioxidant levels

There are significant differences between some of the food processing
methods and
technologies used in manufacturing conventional foods in contrast to
those allowed
and used in producing organic processed foods. Some of these differences
known to have an impact on antioxidant levels. For example, the
synthetic chemical
hexane is often used in extraction of oils from crops in conventional
oil processing
plants, but is prohibited in organic oil processing. Hexane is known to
removal of certain antioxidants.

High-temperature and high-pressure processing technologies also tend to
significant portions of the antioxidants present in fresh foods. Organic
plants often use lower pressure, cold-pressing methods to extract juices
and oils.
The resulting food products are generally richer in flavor and retain
more nutrients,
including antioxidants.

Though there is much more to learn, the current state of science
supports the
conclusion that organic farming methods can and often do result in
higher antioxidant
levels in fruits and vegetables. This health benefit for consumers joins
the list of
other well-documented reasons to buy organic, including the reduction of
worker and consumer exposures to pesticides, the impacts of pesticides
on the
environment, and the prevention of problems associated with hormone and
use in livestock farming. Many consumers report that they enjoy the
richer flavors
in organic food and instinctively sense that organic foods are better
for them; this
SSR confirms that there are good reasons to focus additional scientific
on gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the taste and
benefits associated with elevating average antioxidant levels in food.

Research on antioxidant levels in organically grown food is among the
Organic Center’s
top research priorities. The Center has initiated and funded three new
research projects
in 2004 focused on the impact of organic farming methods and food
technologies on the antioxidant content of food. Detailed information
about the Center’s
antioxidant-related projects can be found at



*Source: 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans;


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