Organic Foods: Is the Price Worth the Payoff?

fruit stand 3By: Jacqueline Minichiello, MS, RD, LDN

Today it seems that you can get an organic version of any product. However, it is difficult to decide if the price increase is worth it or not. In the October 2012 issue of Nutrition Action, this topic was discussed; some of the key points are summarized below.

-Organic foods have been shown to have a higher level of nutrients and phytochemicals about 60% of the time. Levels tend to be about 5% to 15% higher, but can be as high a 30% to 100% in some cases.

-Organic produce have a stronger natural defense system and less of the dilution effects which provides more beneficial compounds.

-The use of nitrogen fertilizers on produce causes them to get bigger, however as they gain size, the concentration of vitamins and minerals is diluted. That is the dilution effect.

-The level of pesticides is lower in organic produce compared to conventionally grown produce.

-There is compelling evidence that low levels of exposure to pesticides is contributing to neurological and developmental problems.

-People who eat more fruits and vegetables are healthier, even when they do not consume organic produce. An important dietary change is to eat more fruits and vegetables and less saturated fat, added sugar and highly processed foods.

The Dirty Dozen
Even if you do not buy all organic produce, it is recommended that you do for these 12 fruits and vegetables to help lower your pesticide exposure: Apples, celery, sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, imported nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, domestic blueberries and potatoes.

 

Jaqueline Minichielo 3Jacqueline Minichiello, MS, RD, LDN

Jackie is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition from Tufts University. She has a passion for cooking, food and physical activity.

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