Modern grocery stores are unlike the ones many of today's adults encountered when they were children. Grocery stores are not only bigger today than they were years ago, but they're also stocked with items that weren't available until relatively recently.
One stroll through the produce section reveals just how different modern grocery stores are from those of yesteryear. Organic fruits and vegetables now take up ample real estate in grocery store produce sections. Many shoppers may wonder if they're better off choosing organic versus traditional products, and research suggests they are.
• Organic foods contain less pesticides and toxic materials. A 2014 meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that organically grown crops were less likely than conventionally grown crops to contain detectable levels of pesticides. The analysis also found that organically grown crops were 48 percent less likely to contain cadmium than conventionally grown crops. Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal that can accumulate in the liver and kidneys, which the Global Healing Center says can affect blood pressure, induce bone damage and affect renal and dopamingeric systems in children.
• Organic crops contain more antioxidants than conventional crops. The same analysis also found that organic crops had significantly higher levels of antioxidants, which promote strong immune systems, than conventionally grown crops. Organic crops were found to contain 69 percent higher levels of flavanones and 51 percent higher levels of anthocyanins than their conventional counterparts. The extra antioxidants in organic foods is nothing to scoff at, as the National Cancer Institute notes that antioxidants neutralize free radicals, excess levels of which can potentially lead to the formation of various types of cancer and other diseases.
• Organic products cannot contain synthetic hormones. Conventionally raised animals are sometimes injected with synthetic growth hormones so they will gain weight more quickly and produce more milk. Residue from those substances, which cannot be used in the production of organic meat and dairy products, is believed to contribute to widespread antibiotic resistance, according to the Biodesign Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University. In addition, some studies have suggested a strong connection between the hormones given to cattle and cancer in humans.
• Organic dairy products can promote cardiovascular health. A 2013 study from researchers affiliated with the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources found that organic milk contained 25 percent less omega-6 fatty acids and 62 percent more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk. The Organic Center notes that's a considerable benefit, as higher amounts of omega-3 and lower amounts of omega-6 fatty acids helps promote cardiovascular health and support the immune system.
When choosing organic products at the grocery store, consumers may be benefitting their overall health in various ways.