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Organic food is healthier

Organic vegetables really are healthier to eat than standard ones, comprehensive new research confirms.

Products grown without using toxic chemicals, which can cost twice as much as a result, contain higher levels of flavonols.

These vegetables have 20 per cent more of the antioxidants, which prevent damage to the body, an Irish study suggests.

It comes five years after a major review of more than 200 studies concluded that organic food offered no nutritional benefit.

However, the new Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown, investigation is the longest-running study to address the issue.

The findings will be welcomed by organic farmers, whose claims their food is more nutritious have previously been rubbished by the government watchdog.

On its website, the Food Standards Agency says the balance of current scientific evidence does not support this view.

Commenting on the study, Fiona Hunter, registered nutritionist and spokesperson for Healthspan told MailOnline it was ‘interesting research’.

She added: ‘Just because it’s the case for one vegetable and one group of phyto-chemicals, it doesn’t mean this will be the same for other fruits and vegetables.

‘The truth is, we really don’t know how many vitamins and minerals and phyto-chemicals, fruit and vegetables contain today.

Researchers assessed the levels of flavonoids and antioxidants in ‘Red Baron’ and ‘Hyskin’ onions between 2009 and 2014.

These forms of the vegetable are known to be high in quercetin – hailed by scientists for its cancer-fighting properties.

Organic farming, supported by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, may not be better for the planet.

A major study of organic farms in March reported some benefits of cutting out pesticides are being undone because so few crops are produced.

Yields can be 40 per cent lower than on traditional farms, meaning more land is needed which adds to greenhouse gases and water shortages.

The study in the journal Science Advances stated that organic food is not the ‘holy grail’ to fix the environment and food security challenges – while it may have only marginal health benefits.

University of British Columbia researchers also criticised the cost, as shoppers who buy organic can see their grocery bills rise by up to 50 per cent.

A range of crops, grown either organically or using pesticides, were measured for their levels of the compounds, according to the report published in the ACS’ Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

As well as being higher in flavonoids, the researchers also found that antioxidant activity was higher in both varieties of organic onions.

To be certified as organic, farmers are unable to use the strong chemical weedkillers and pesticides on their vegetables.

Instead, they use natural forms of growing crops in time for their harvest, such as biological pest control and rotation.

However, due to this method of farming being less efficient, it costs more to produce – explaining the higher price of such vegetables.

But researchers have long warned that people buying organic products are doing more damage to the environment than they think.

Yields can be 40 per cent lower than on traditional farms, meaning more land is needed which adds to greenhouse gases and water shortages.

Sales of organic produce has soared in recent years, with figures suggesting it has quadrupled since the turn of the century.

Today there are 43.7 million hectares dedicated to organic farming across the world, compared to just 11 million in 1999.

Source: The Mail

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