What are the health benefits of organic food?

Updated 1 month ago by Benoit

Scientific studies suggest numerous health benefits.

1) Lower exposure to pesticides

Organic food steers clear of chemical pesticides, which can pose a health risk.

« Pesticide residues are important food contaminants. Several studies have been conducted to assess the impact of an organic diet on pesticide residues in humans using urine biomonitoring. They consistently report a markedly lower concentration of pesticide residue metabolites in urine among children or adults. »

Mie A, Andersen HR, Gunnarsson S, et al. Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review. Environ Health. 2017;16(1):111. Published 2017 Oct 27. doi:10.1186/s12940-017-0315-4 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29073935/

2) Higher in antioxidants

Organically grown foods are 20 to 70% higher in antioxidants than conventionally grown foods.

« In conclusion, organic crops, on average, have higher concentrations of antioxidants, lower concentrations of Cd and a lower incidence of pesticide residues than the non-organic comparators across regions and production seasons. »

Barański M, Srednicka-Tober D, Volakakis N, et al. Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. Br J Nutr. 2014;112(5):794-811. doi:10.1017/S0007114514001366 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24968103/

« Reviews of multiple studies show that organic varieties do provide significantly greater levels of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus than non-organic varieties of the same foods. »

Crinnion WJ. Organic foods contain higher levels of certain nutrients, lower levels of pesticides, and may provide health benefits for the consumer. Altern Med Rev. 2010;15(1):4-12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20359265/

2) Reduced risk of cancer

In 2018, a study showed a 25% lower cancer risk among the highest consumers of organic products.

« A higher frequency of organic food consumption was associated with a reduced risk of cancer. »

Baudry J, Assmann KE, Touvier M, et al. Association of Frequency of Organic Food Consumption With Cancer Risk: Findings From the NutriNet-Santé Prospective Cohort Study [published correction appears in JAMA Intern Med. 2018 Dec 1;178(12):1732]. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(12):1597-1606. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.4357 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30422212/

3) Reduced risk of diabetes

A 2020 study shows that the risk of type 2 diabetes is 35% lower in the highest consumers of organic products.

« In this large prospective cohort study, Organic food consumption was inversely associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes. »

Kesse-Guyot E, Rebouillat P, Payrastre L, et al. Prospective association between organic food consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: findings from the NutriNet-Santé cohort study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2020;17(1):136. Published 2020 Nov 9. doi:10.1186/s12966-020-01038-y https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33167995/

In 2018, U.S. researchers published similar findings.

« Individuals who reported purchasing organic foods were less likely to have diabetes compared to those who did not report organic food purchase. »

Sun Y, Liu B, Du Y, et al. Inverse Association between Organic Food Purchase and Diabetes Mellitus in US Adults. Nutrients. 2018;10(12):1877. Published 2018 Dec 3. doi:10.3390/nu10121877 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30513866/

4) Reduced risk of being overweight or obese

People who regularly eat organic foods have a lower likelihood of becoming overweight or obese.

« These data confirm the association between organic food consumption and obesity during both childhood and adulthood. »

Gosling CJ, Goncalves A, Ehrminger M, Valliant R. Association of organic food consumption with obesity in a nationally representative sample. Br J Nutr. 2021;125(6):703-711. doi:10.1017/S0007114520003189 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32799959/

« This study supports a strong protective role of consumption frequency of organic foods with regard to the risk of overweight and obesity that depends on overall dietary quality. »

Kesse-Guyot E, Baudry J, Assmann KE, Galan P, Hercberg S, Lairon D. Prospective association between consumption frequency of organic food and body weight change, risk of overweight or obesity: results from the NutriNet-Santé Study. Br J Nutr. 2017;117(2):325-334. doi:10.1017/S0007114517000058 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28166859/

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