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No evidence organic foods benefit health

Consumers who opt for organic food often believe they are improving their health, but currently there is no strong evidence that supports nutrition-related health benefits of organic food.

No evidence organic foods benefit health

Consumers who opt for organic food often believe they are improving their health, but currently there is no strong evidence that supports nutrition-related health benefits of organic food.

While questions remain as to whether organic food has any extra nutritional value, people buy organic food for a number of other reasons as well. Organic food is grown without the use of conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics or hormones - which could potentially benefit people's health and the environment. To assess whether organic food actually benefits health, American researchers collected 162 scientific articles, published on this issue over the last 50 years. For the current review, the researchers found only 12 published articles that met their criteria for evaluating the health effects of organic foods.

Of these, half were short-term clinical trials that looked at whether specific organic foods changed markers of antioxidant activity in participants' blood. No evidence was found supporting the hypothesis that organic and conventional foods differ in their nutrient content. Though all the six trials lacked evidence that supported organic food boosting antioxidant activity, the studies were small and had a limited scope - the largest study included 43 men, and they lasted no longer than a few weeks.

Out of the other 6 studies, one found an association between organic food and a lower risk of the allergic skin condition eczema among nearly 2,800 Dutch children aged 2 years or younger. In that study, parents were surveyed several times about their children's diet and any episodes of eczema over the first two years of life. Researchers found that children who consumed strictly organic dairy products had a lower risk of eczema than those consuming conventional dairy foods. However, the study had several key limitations, including its reliance on parents' reports of eczema, and the basic design of the study did not allow for any conclusions about whether children's consumption of organic dairy was the reason for the lower eczema risk.

Organic food has many theoretical benefits and is a growing fad, whether these benefits translate into better health of those consuming it, still remains to be resolved.
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