MONDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Organic foods are almost invariably more expensive than their conventionally produced counterparts but they aren't necessarily healthier or more nutritious, new research suggests.
Scientists found no consistent differences in vitamin content between organic and conventional foods and few significant differences in health benefits. They did note, however, that organic produce is 30 percent less likely to be contaminated with pesticides than conventional fruits and vegetables -- though the pesticide levels of all foods fell within allowable limits -- and that organic chicken and pork appeared to lessen exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
"I think different people will make different decisions based on our findings," said study author Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler, an instructor at Stanford University School of Medicine and a physician-investigator at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, in California. "We thought we'd find more significant differences, but there are many reasons why someone might consume organic foods. Health is one, but they may be concerned about the environment, animal welfare practices or taste, and we weren't evaluating that."
The study is published Sept. 4 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Smith-Spangler and her colleagues analyzed 237 previous studies, including 17 involving human consumption of organic vs. conventional diets and 223 comparing either the nutrient levels or the bacterial, fungal or pesticide contamination of products such as fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, milk, poultry and eggs produced organically and conventionally.
Organic foods, often twice as costly as their conventional counterparts, have become big business in the United States in recent years, with estimated sales skyrocketing from $3.6 billion to $26.7 billion between 1997 and 2010, according to study backgrou
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