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Food Nutr Res. 2017 Mar 6;61(1):1287333. doi: 10.1080/16546628.2017.1287333. eCollection 2017.

Effects of organic food consumption on human health; the jury is still out!

Author information

1
Nafferton Ecological Farming Group (NEFG), School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University , Newcastle upon Tyne , UK.
2
Department of Nutrition, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo , Oslo , Norway.

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

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