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4 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Eating Organic

4 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Eating Organic
From TIME - July 27, 2017

The organic food industry is a booming business, and with the recent sale of natural-foods giant Whole Foods to Amazon, its expected to grow even larger in the near future. While some consumers buy organic because they believe it's better for the environment, even more do so for health-related reasons, according to one 2016 survey.

What, exactly, are the health benefits of going organic? That depends on who you ask and which studies you consult. But if you do choose to buy organic foods, here are some science-backed bonuses youre likely to get in return.

Fewer pesticides and heavy metals

Fruits, vegetables and grains labeled organic are grown without the use of most synthetic pesticides or artificial fertilizers. (The National Organic Standard Board does allow some synthetic substances to be used.) While such chemicals have been deemed safe in the quantities used for conventional farming, health experts still warn about the potential harms of repeated exposure.

For example, the commonly used herbicide Roundup has been classified as a probable human carcinogen, and the insecticide chlorpyrifos has been associated with developmental delays in infants. Studies have also suggested that pesticide residuesat levels commonly found in the urine of kids in the U.S.may contribute to ADHD prevalence; theyve also been linked to reduced sperm quality in men.

A 2014 meta-analysis in the British Journal of Nutrition found that organically grown crops were not only less likely to contain detectable levels of pesticides, but because of differences in fertilization techniques, they were also 48% less likely to test positive for cadmium, a toxic heavy metal that accumulates in the liver and kidneys.

More healthy fats

When it comes to meat and milk, organic products can have about 50% more omega-3 fatty acids, a type of unsaturated healthy fat, than conventionally produced products, according to a 2016 study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Organic milk tested in the study also had less saturated fat than non-organic.

These differences may come from the way organic livestock is raised, with a grass-fed diet and more time spent outdoors, say the studys authors. They believe that switching from conventional to organic products would raise consumers' omega-3 intake without increasing overall calories or saturated fat.

No antibiotics or synthetic hormones

More antioxidants, in some cases

The bottom line

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