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Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Nov;48(11):3058-66. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2010.07.044. Epub 2010 Aug 4.

Consuming organic versus conventional vegetables: the effect on nutrient and contaminant intakes.

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Department of Food Safety and Food Quality, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.


The health benefits of consuming organic compared to conventional foods are unclear. This study aimed at evaluating the nutrient and contaminant intake of adults through consumption of organic versus conventional vegetables, namely carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach and potatoes. A probabilistic simulation approach was used for the intake assessment in two adult populations: (1) a representative sample of Belgians (n=3245) and (2) a sample of Flemish organic and conventional consumers (n=522). Although significant differences in nutrient and contaminant contents were previously found between organic and conventional vegetables, they were inconsistent for a component and/or vegetable. These findings were translated here into inconsistent intake assessments. This means that the intake of specific nutrients and contaminants can be higher or lower for organic versus conventional vegetables. However, when considering the consumption pattern of organic consumers, an increase in intake of a selected set of nutrients and contaminants is observed, which are explained by the general higher vegetable consumption of this consumer group. In public health terms, there is insufficient evidence to recommend organic over conventional vegetables. The general higher vegetable consumption of organic compared to conventional consumers outweighs usually the role of differences in nutrient and contaminant concentrations between organic and conventional vegetables.

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