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Organic vegetables don't have extra nutrients, researchers say

January 08, 2011|By Karen Kaplan

Organic produce is more expensive than the conventional variety, and there are many reasons why consumers fork over that extra money. But if one of those reasons is a belief that organic fruits and veggies are healthier, Danish researchers have some bad news.

A detailed scientific assessment of carrots, potatoes and onions – some grown conventionally and some grown organically – found that all of the veggies had essentially the same levels of flavonoids and phenolic acids, two types of nutrients that are thought to be helpful in preventing ailments such as heart disease, cancer and dementia.

The scientists grew all three veggies on multiple plots for two growing seasons. They found that nutrient levels changed from year to year, but that those changes occurred no matter which type of growing system was used. The one exception was for a phenolic acid called 5-CQA in potatoes – it was “significantly higher” in spuds grown in one organic system than it was in spuds grown in another organic system or using conventional methods.

For a whole lot more detail on how the scientists washed, peeled, freeze-dried, crushed and homogenized the veggies before storing them in nitrogen and removing the flavonoids and phenolic acids using “pressurized liquid extraction” techniques, check out the full study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. But if you just want the bottom line, here it is:

“It cannot be concluded that organically grown onions, carrots, and potatoes generally have higher contents of health-promoting secondary metabolites in comparison with the conventionally cultivated ones,” they wrote.

RELATED: Organic food no more nutritious than conventionally grown, review finds

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