Higher Antioxidant Concentrations in Organic Foods
There are increased public concerns regarding food safety and the negative impact of chemicals, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides on crop production. This has led to the increased use of organic foods which are believed to be free from chemicals, pesticides and different types of food additives such as preservatives, food colorings and flavorings.
There is a positive relationship between high antioxidant concentration and health benefits. Antioxidants are substances that protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals. It protects the body by scavenging or neutralizing the free radicals. Foods rich in antioxidants have shown to protect against various diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cataracts, cancer, premature aging etc. Antioxidants naturally present in foods are beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, vitamin C, vitamin E and certain flavonoids.
Organic foods contain lower amount of toxic metals such as cadmium and contain higher amount of antioxidants (60-70% higher) as compared to conventional foods. This higher concentration of antioxidants is in response to environmental stress such as drought, cold, high temperatures etc. where plants may produce substances called as ‘antioxidants’. But conventionally grown foods are protected from this environmental stress through the use of pesticides and other chemicals. Therefore, their ability to produce antioxidants is lower as compared to organic foods.
Also use of fertilizers and chemicals in conventional crops reduces their ability to produce antioxidants.
This shows that organic foods that contain few or no chemical residues have higher antioxidant concentration which stimulates the immune system and keeps diseases and infections at bay.