While many people continue to wonder whether there is truly a major difference between organic and “conventional” produce, others are eating organic — and feeling the difference first-hand.
Few headlines were released in major news outlets when earlier this year a study in Brazil showed that organic tomatoes, despite being smaller in size, are packed with higher amounts of Polyphenols, contain more vitamin C, and more.
The Brazilian study, which can be viewed here, noted that the “tough upbringing” of the organic plants is what gave them the increases in the beneficial antioxidants and other natural health-benefiting chemicals.
Earlier in the summer of 2012, a similar study from the University of Barcelona also showed that organic tomatoes contain higher amounts of Polyphenol compounds than “conventional” tomatoes, according to a report on the website One Degree Organics.
Polyphenols are natural antioxidants from plants that are created within them in response to environmental stress. Plants that must work harder to survive without the aid of chemical pesticides produce more Polyphenols, which are considered to be among the most beneficial of all plant-based compounds as they help to protect cells from free radical damage and premature aging among other benefits.
Conventional Tomatoes “Fat and Lazy”
As noted in the article above on the Barcelona study article, “conventional” pesticide-laden farming techniques have essentially allowed vegetables to become “fat and lazy” rather than becoming strong in the face of potential insect invaders.
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:
“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.
According to Rosa M. Lamuela, the lead researcher of the organic tomato juice and ketchup study:
“The benefit of taking polyphenols through foods is that they contain a wide variety of such molecules, which are increased.’ This would be more beneficial to health than the intake of supplements. Tomatoes also contain lycopene and other carotenoids, and vitamin C.”
For all the hubbub over the Stanford “Organic vs. Conventional” study of last year (which featured clear ties to Big Ag, of course, and surveyed several other studies), the importance of Polyphenols was not mentioned in any major article written about on the matter.
Considering the immense benefits of Polyphenols, it’s clear that the media has not done its job in informing the masses about the true benefits of organic foods as demonstrated by these studies.
But of course those who eat true organics already know that the benefits of organic tomatoes, and other fruits, vegetables and other items, are well worth it when it’s all said and done.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. One of the areas with the strongest plants — containing the most antioxidants — is of course the Amazon Rainforest. Learn more about the amazing benefits of Amazon Rainforest Herbs in this free ebook.
This article was first written in August 2013 and updated in October 2018.