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Effects of Organic Food Consumption on Human Health; The Jury Is Still Out!

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Effects of Organic Food Consumption on Human Health; The Jury Is Still Out!

Marcin Barański et al. Food Nutr Res.

Abstract

The most recent systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses have indicated significant and nutritionally-relevant composition differences between organic and conventional foods. This included higher antioxidant, but lower cadmium and pesticide levels in organic crops, and higher omega-3 fatty acids concentrations in organic meat and dairy products. Also, results from a small number of human cohort studies indicate that there are positive associations between organic food consumption and reduced risk/incidence of certain acute diseases (e.g. pre-eclampsia, hypospadias) and obesity. Concerns about potential negative health impacts of organic food consumption (e.g. risks linked to lower iodine levels in organic milk) have also been raised, but are not currently supported by evidence from human cohort studies. However, there is virtually no published data from (1) long-term cohort studies focusing on chronic diseases (e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative conditions) and (2) controlled human dietary intervention studies comparing effects of organic and conventional diets. It is therefore currently not possible to quantify to what extent organic food consumption may affect human health.

Keywords: Organic farming; environment; human health; organic food nutritional composition; sustainability.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Effect of organic crop protection (OP) or conventional crop protection (CP), and organic fertility management (OF) or conventional fertility management (CF), on (1) the concentration of protein, polyphenols, cadmium, and chlormequat in 100 g of experimental animal feed, and (2) plasma insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), testosterone (Ts), leptin and spontaneous lymphocyte proliferation (sp-LP) in Wistar rats fed with these feeds. Results shown as means ±SEM of (1) n = 4 field replications, or (2) n = 24 animals; different letters above bars indicate significant difference (P < 0.05) determined by Tukey’s HSD test. Data from paper by Średnicka-Tober et al. [26], with the permission from authors.

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Grant support

This work was supported by the Sheepdrove Trust.
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