Organic food contains more of the antioxidant compounds linked to better health and lower levels of toxic metals and pesticides, according to a new study.
The international team behind the study suggest that switching from regular to organic fruit and vegetables could give the same benefits as adding one or two portions of the 5 A DAY currently recommended, The Guardian reports.
The news outlet reported that the team, led by Professor Carlo Leifert at the University of Newcastle, found that there are "statistically significant, meaningful" differences between organic and regular produce, with a range of antioxidants being "substantially higher" – between 19 per cent and 69 per cent – in organic food.
It is believed to be the first study to demonstrate clear and wide-ranging differences between organic and conventional fruits, vegetables and cereals.
The researchers say the increased levels of antioxidants are equivalent to "one to two of the five portions of fruits and vegetables recommended to be consumed daily, and would therefore be significant and meaningful in terms of human nutrition, if information linking these [compounds] to the health benefits associated with increased fruit, vegetable and whole grain consumption is confirmed."
However, Tom Sanders, a professor of nutrition at King's College London, told The Guardian that while the research did show some differences, "the question is are they within natural variation? And are they nutritionally relevant? I am not convinced."
He added that Leifert's work had caused controversy in the past.
The results are based on an analysis of a record-breaking 343 previously peer-reviewed studies from all over the world which examine differences between organic and conventional fruit, vegetables and cereals.
The research is due to be published in the British Journal of Nutrition next week. It has, however, appeared on numerous medical sites this week.