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Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2003 Sep;54(5):357-71.

Organic food: nutritious food or food for thought? A review of the evidence.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece.


Apparently, one of the primary reasons for purchasing organic food is the perception that it is more nutritious than conventional food. Given the increasing interest towards organic food products, it is imperative to review the existing literature concerning the nutritional value of the produce, and to determine to what extent are consumer expectations met. There are only few well-controlled studies that are capable of making a valid comparison and, therefore, compilation of the results is difficult and generalisation of the conclusions should be made with caution. In spite of these limitations, however, some differences can be identified. Although there is little evidence that organic and conventional foods differ in respect to the concentrations of the various micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and trace elements), there seems to be a slight trend towards higher ascorbic acid content in organically grown leafy vegetables and potatoes. There is also a trend towards lower protein concentration but of higher quality in some organic vegetables and cereal crops. With respect to the rest of the nutrients and the other food groups, existing evidence is inadequate to allow for valid conclusions. Finally, animal feeding experiments indicate that animal health and reproductive performance are slightly improved when they are organically fed. A similar finding has not yet been identified in humans. Several important directions can be highlighted for future research; it seems, however, that despite any differences, a well-balanced diet can equally improve health regardless of its organic or conventional origin.

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