There are many reasons to choose organic food over “conventional,” chief among them the ability to avoid genetically modified material, as well as pesticides that have been linked to all sorts of maladies ranging from lowered reproductive function to cancer and even autism.
But another recent study has confirmed what many in the true natural food movement, the stewards of healthy food and healthy soil, already know: organic food also contains more antioxidants along with more minerals and other measurements.
The study, published in the IOSR Journal of Agriculture and Veterinary Science, found that “organic tomatoes have a higher antioxidant ability than conventional tomatoes,” a conclusion that adds more weight to recent studies that have shown similar results.
Overall, the study, which can be viewed here, found “significantly higher” amounts of antioxidants in tomatoes using one particular method, the Diphenyl-1-picryl hydrazyl bleaching method. Tests using two other methods of estimating antioxidant activity also found a higher amount of antioxidants in organic tomatoes, although the difference was not as significant.
Samples were taken of organic tomatoes and the same variety of “conventional” tomatoes, and then free-dried and stored in the dark before measurements were conducted in a solvent used for testing.
Antioxidants are an important benefit provided by healthy whole foods, as they help to “scavenge” cell-damaging free radicals released naturally in the body through daily activities and stressors.
International Studies Echo the Benefits of Organic Tomatoes
Tomatoes, which offer plenty of lycopene, vitamin C and other key nutrients, also offer higher antioxidant levels according to a pair of international studies that were not particularly well-covered by the mainstream media, which has been pushing an “organic is not worth your money” narrative in many outlets, likely due to pressure from sponsors.
In those studies, from Brazil and Spain, organic tomatoes were also found to have higher levels of these antioxidants (polyphenols).
As lead researcher Anna Vallverdu Queralt noted in a previous study that also demonstrated that organic tomato juice and ketchup had higher amounts of antioxidants, how the plants are fertilized could make a big difference.
“In any form of cultivation, the most important factor for the growth of the plant is the availability of nitrogen. In conventional agriculture, the nitrogen can be added in soluble form, as a fertilizer, whereas in organic production the plant receives no artificial nutrients and therefore responds by activating defense mechanisms that increase the levels of polyphenols. As a result, conventionally grown plants can lose resistance to disease and present lower levels of nutrients, minerals and secondary metabolites.”
Polyphenol consumption is linked with reduced risk of cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, and some forms of cancer.
The Brazilian study mentioned above, from 2013, also showed a stunning victory for organic tomatoes in terms of their vitamin C content: the organic tomatoes, though smaller, had 57 percent higher vitamin C levels (as well as over twice the amount of antioxidants)
The new organic tomato study, carried out by two Indian researchers from Bangalore, did not study vitamin content, but it does make reference to a three-year study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that found higher levels of quercetin, kaempferol, total phenolics (antioxidants), and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) compared to conventional tomatoes, and another study showing that organic tomatoes have higher levels of vitamin C, carotenoids and antioxidants as well.
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