If you have picked an apple from the organic section of your grocery store, you probably thought it would improve your health. And if you do not, you can join the camp, which believes that the potential health benefits of going organic do not outweigh the literal costs.
But what if the benefits include weight loss? Here we examine how eating organic can impact your lean endeavors. Whether you opt for bio or not is ultimately up to you.
More nutrients, better weight?
While experts have been discussing for years whether organic foods are really more nutritious than their conventionally raised counterparts, last year a review of the British Journal of Nutrition came to 343 studies that looked at organic foods (both plants and packaged foods made from these Cultures, such as bread), contain higher levels of antioxidants than conventionally grown foods.
This is because an organic apple and a conventionally grown apple may contain the same number of vitamins and antioxidants, but the organic apple is much smaller, which means it contains more of them per ounce, says study co-author Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Why the size difference? The funny thing is, that could be the reason why organic, nitrogen-rich fertilizer is so expensive, which means that organic farmers can not afford to over-grow their crops as conventional farmers can says Benbrook. And nitrogen is for plants, which is calories for humans, so if conventional plants get too much nitrogen, they do the same thing we do: they grow up. Their nutritional properties, like our muscles, do not balloon with them.
“When production is over-fertilized, the ratio of calories per antioxidant activity goes up,” says Benbrook. That means that bite per bite, you generally get less good for you nutrients and more calories (granted, probably not enough to destroy your diet) from this conventionally raised, albeit larger, apple, he says, in comparison to the smaller organic variety.
Previous research at the University of Newcastle found that organic fruit and vegetables contain an average of 12 percent more healthy plant-based compounds – resveratrol and other polyphenols – than conventionally grown products. What’s more, research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that flavonol, one of these beneficial plant compounds, can stabilize blood sugar levels, help to keep appetite at bay while another such compound, resveratrol, has been shown to be To promote abundance. Some pesticides used in conventional agriculture, however, may reduce the level of resveratrol in plants.
So, if vitamins and antioxidants are not what makes this non-organic apple bigger, what’s that? Simple sugars and starches, which explains why traditional products are often sweeter and juicier, says Benbrook.
His research study shows that some organic vegetables and fruits usually contain 20 to 40 percent more antioxidants per calorie than conventionally raised versions. “Choosing organic foods to meet your five-day product requirement is like getting a sixth serving without consuming extra calories,” explains Benbrook.
But just because an apple is organic, it does not guarantee that the farmer has not stacked on the nitrogen, reducing its antioxidant levels while increasing its calories, Benbrook says. There are studies, including a 2012 review in the Annals of Internal Medicine, have found that organic and non-organic products do not vary greatly in terms of nutrients. While organic cultures are generally more nutrient-dense than traditional cultures, a bio-seal is not proof that they will. It just proves that the crops were grown without synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, genetic engineering or chemical fertilizers.
So, can pesticides measure with your weight?
The average American is exposed to 10 to 13 pesticide residues per day, including one to three highly toxic pesticides called organophosphates. Organic production reduces total food-related exposure by 97 percent overall, according to research by the Organic Center, a non-profit research and education organization.
While not demonstrating that exposure to these pesticides as an adult affects your metabolic health or weight, Benbrook notes that if you eat conventional products during pregnancy or if your child feeds conventional products during the first two years. It may be affecting future weight. Research in PLOS One and Environmental Health Perspectives has linked the exposure of chemical pesticides to increased body mass index in children and increased weight, abdominal fat and insulin resistance in rodents.
“During fetal development and then at 2 years of age, people are sensitive to epigenetic changes,” says Benbrook. “Some pesticides at this time can upregulate the child’s ‘thrifty’ genes, so that [the child] grows up by putting on fat.”
However, supporters of conventional crops say that any pesticide residue found on products is too small to have a real impact – be it on your overall health or your weight.
“I really do not believe that the levels we’re exposed to are a risk, we can see pesticide residues in food supply on many scales that are lower than what would cause harm,” according to Carl Winter, a pesticide & nutrition expert on Food Poisons at the University of California-Davis.
Nevertheless, if you want to limit your pesticide exposure, the best place to start is with the Dirty Dozen of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. The EWG estimates that buying 12 foods on the list will reduce your pesticide load by 80 percent if you use organic varieties.
Either way, you need more production
Organic or not, replenishing fruits and vegetables is consistently associated with weight loss.