Organic fruit and vegetables are much better for you – and scientists have finally been able to explain why. Organic produce are not grown with nitrogenous fertilizers, and so have to activate their own defence system, which, in turn, increases their levels of antioxidants.
For example, tomatoes that are organically grown have higher levels of phenolic compounds – antioxidants that protect against cardiovascular diseases, degenerative diseases and some cancers – than conventionally-grown ones.
Even tomato juice and ketchup processed from organic tomatoes have higher phenol levels than the more popular brands, say researchers at the University of Barcelona.
In all, the researchers found 34 different phenolic compounds in the organic tomatoes they analysed.
They reckon that the greater the stress a plant experiences – by protecting itself against pests and disease – the more the polyphenols they produce. Plants protected by insecticides don’t suffer the same stress levels – and so don’t produce the health-giving antioxidants.
(Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2012; 60: 4542-9).