Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Organically grown foods higher in cancer-fighting chemicals than conventionally grown foods

04.03.2003


Fruits and veggies grown organically show significantly higher levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants than conventionally grown foods, according to a new study of corn, strawberries and marionberries. The research suggests that pesticides and herbicides actually thwart the production of phenolics — chemicals that act as a plant’s natural defense and also happen to be good for our health. Fertilizers, however, seem to boost the levels of anti-cancer compounds.



The findings appear in the Feb. 26 print edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society. The article was initially published Jan. 25 on the journal’s Web site.

Flavonoids are phenolic compounds that have potent antioxidant activity. Many are produced in plants in response to environmental stressors, such as insects or competing plants.


"If an aphid is nibbling on a leaf, the plant produces phenolics to defend itself," says Alyson Mitchell, Ph.D., a food scientist at the University of California, Davis, and lead author of the paper. "Bitter or harsh phenolics guard the plant against these pests."

The need for these natural safeguards decreases with the use of herbicides and pesticides in conventional agriculture. This decrease is reflected in the total amount of antioxidants the plants produce. "This helps explain why the level of antioxidants is so much higher in organically grown food," Mitchell says. "By synthetically protecting the produce from these pests, we decrease their need to produce antioxidants. It suggests that maybe we are doing something to our food inadvertently."

Mitchell measured antioxidants found in corn, strawberries and a type of blackberry called a marionberry. "We started with these three due to plant availability," Mitchell explains, "but we intend to widen our search to include tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and a variety of other vegetables. We expect these results to be transferable to most produce."

The investigation compared the total antioxidants found in foods grown organically (using no herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers) to foods grown sustainably (in this study fertilizers but no herbicides or pesticides were used) and conventionally (using synthetic chemicals to protect the plants and increase yield).

The results showed a significant increase in antioxidants in organic and sustainably grown foods versus conventionally grown foods. The levels of antioxidants in sustainably grown corn were 58.5 percent higher than conventionally grown corn. Organically and sustainably grown marionberries had approximately 50 percent more antioxidants than conventionally grown berries. Sustainably and organically grown strawberries showed about 19 percent more antioxidants than conventionally grown strawberries.

Antioxidant levels were highest overall in sustainably grown produce, which indicates that a combination of organic and conventional practices yields the highest levels of antioxidants. "This may reflect the balance between adequate nutrition in the form of fertilizers and external pest pressures because of the lack of pesticides and herbicides," Mitchell explains.

"Originally, the question was just really intriguing to me," says Mitchell, whose research grew naturally from a personal interest in organic foods. "I found that the higher level of antioxidants is enough to have a significant impact on health and nutrition, and it’s definitely changed the way I think about my food."

Allison Byrum | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.acs.org/

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>