There is a growing belief that organic foods are healthier for us than non-organic foods. This ever-increasing belief is responsible for significant growth in organic farming over the last decade.
Recently, The IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute completed a study to determine if the switch from conventional foods to organic foods would have a measurable effect on the body. They conducted this study on one family for over three weeks.
The first week the family ate as usual. But in the following two weeks, the family ate only organic foods. The family kept a daily food journal and submitted daily urine samples. While the study is small, the number of pesticides found in the bodies significantly reduced while eating organic foods.
An article published in the journal Environmental Research by Researchers from RMIT University, supports these findings. In the article, they shared that switching to organic foods for as short of time as just one week saw a reduction in pesticide exposure in 90 percent of adults.
One of the main reasons consumers give for choosing organic foods is the concern over the presence of pesticides. The tested levels of pesticides found in the bodies while eating conventional food are “said to be” low and safe. However, there is gaining scientific evidence about the opposite, more negative effects of pesticides on health.
It seems as if these concerns may have some validity. What we do know is that many conventional pesticides contain organophosphorus, a chemical compound that links to some developmental problems, including autism and ADHD (Note: The research is in its infancy.)
This information surely supports the need to be concerned about the type and levels of pesticides in our foods.
Is Eating Organic Food Really Healthier? Here Are Three Reasons to Try!
Not to discount the critical conversation around pesticides in our food, but are there actual health benefits to eating organic food over non-organic?
Many ongoing studies are trying to determine the answer to this very question, and early reports are showing that there does seem to be some health benefits of eating organic.
1 – Antioxidant Impact of Organic Food
A study conducted by The Organic Center showed organic foods supply higher levels of antioxidants, which have a more positive impact on our bodies than those from non-organic foods. It may be from the fact that the antioxidants are not having to compete with toxic elements from the pesticides used in raising agric food.
2 – Organic Foods Promote A Stronger Immune System
As a society, we are focused on staying healthy, which means taking care of illness, preferably before it happens. There may be a problem with excessive antibiotics in our systems from eating non-organic animal food products since the animals are receiving antibiotics.
The overload of antibiotics our bodies are receiving may lead to a weakened immune system. Of course, organic farmers do not give their animals antibiotics that are important to consider when purchasing meat and dairy products.
3 – Organic Foods Improve Your All-Important Heart Health
The products produced from organic, grass-fed animals have higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is a naturally occurring, heart-healthy fatty acid that research suggests can protect the heart, regulate the immune system, and even aid in the prevention of some cancers.
What Does Eating Organic Foods Mean For You?
Should we go cold turkey and go organic? All things being equal, the answer would be yes for the obvious reasons that we know that organic food does not contain unnatural, or potentially dangerous, toxic chemicals. The problem is that currently, prices are not equal. So often, choosing an all-organic meal plan can put a short term strain on our budgets. The good news to this problem is that as more and more farmers decide to grow organic, the prices will naturally fall.
Now many people would argue that you can’t put a price tag on health. And while a purely organic diet may not be affordable to some, it is an investment worth considering.
It might be wise to start going organic using the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen. It is a yearly list that shows the produce items found with the highest levels of pesticides. This year’s list includes:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Cherry tomatoes
- Snap peas (imported)
Best Organic Foods from A to Z
There are so many delicious organic foods for you to choose from. How can you choose? Here is an A to Z listing to reveal the absolute best healthy organic foods from A to Z for you to add to your menu today.
Whether you prefer your apples in red, green, or yellow, choose organic apples for a quick snack or sliced on your lunch salad. Apples are chock full of soluble fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. They contain a plant compound called polyphenol. Eating foods high in polyphenols aids your digestion, brain, and enables you to fight certain kinds of cancer. Studies show that apples are high in antioxidants, which protects you from certain diseases such as.
- Heart disease
- Type2 diabetes
Bananas are one of the most popular fruits you can eat. They provide you with potassium, which aids your heart health and lowers your blood pressure. One medium-sized banana fulfills 10% of your daily potassium needs. Freeze some bananas and use a couple of them in your morning smoothie for a little extra sweetness and fiber.
These long orange plants have a reputation for protecting your eyes due to their high level of beta-carotene. Because your body converts the beta-carotene into vitamin A, it helps your skin, eyes, and immune system stay healthy. Beta-carotene is what gives carrots their vibrant orange color. Beta-carotene is also found in other oranges, yellow and red vegetables. Carrots can be roasted, used in baking, or sliced to eat raw.
Dragon fruit is pink on the outside with a white fleshy inside filled with tiny black seeds. It’s sweet and tastes similar to a kiwi or pear. High in vitamin C, it’s good for your immune system. Throw cut-up dragon fruit pieces into a blender with other fruits for a healthy smoothie in the mornings for breakfast.
Eggplant gets no respect. It should be acknowledged because it has great health benefits. This egg-shaped purple veggie is high in vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, thiamine, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and folic acid. With so many benefits, eggplants deserve a place at your table. Use eggplant in the following tasty ways:
- Stir-fry dishes
- Sauteed with lemon and olive oil
Flax seeds are little but mighty. These tiny seeds are packed with healthy dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds help your digestion, relieve common constipation, and lower your cholesterol. Grind them at home or use them whole in your cooking or baking. Because flax seeds are high in oil, you can use them to replace the fat in many recipes.
If your recipe calls for ⅓ cup of oil, use 1 cup of ground flaxseed in place of the oil. A good rule of thumb is to use a 3 to 1 ratio when you substitute flax seeds for oil. When you use flaxseed for oil, your baked goods may be denser and will have a tendency to turn brown quicker, so keep an eye on your baked goods.
There’s no such thing as a cure-all food, but ginger comes pretty close to it. This pungent root is packed with healthy benefits. Here are a few
- Ginger lessens pain and inflammation. It is also great for headaches, arthritis pain and menstrual cramps.
- It’s a stimulant that boost’s your blood circulation.
- It aids your body’s ability to overcome the common cold.
- It helps to prevent some bacteria, such as salmonella.
- Aids digestion and helps reduce gas.
- It can help prevent stomach pain caused by ulcers.
Packed with iron, phosphorus, folate, B vitamins, fiber, and protein, hummus has taken the healthy community by storm over the past decade. Made primarily with chickpeas, this delicious dip can be eaten on bread, veggies, or when diluted poured over a salad. It’s high in natural unsaturated fats from the sesame seeds and olive oil in the recipe.
Jackfruit (an overlooked organic food!)
Jackfruit is a popular meat substitute. When prepared correctly, jackfruit’s stringy consistency resembles meat in vegan dishes like chilis, stews, tacos, or burritos. It is a great source for your daily intake of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, and antioxidants. Overall, finding ways to include jackfruit into your diet makes good health-sense.
Kale is a leafy green plant that is rich in calcium, vitamin K and fiber. But that’s not all. Kale also boosts vitamin C, iron, and other nutrients for your multiple health benefits. Its antioxidants can remove toxins in your body. Roast it, stir fry it or steam it for sweet healthiness in your diet.
This little round legume is no stranger to the health food list. Lentils are low in calories, but they are high in protein. Packed with iron, B vitamins, folate, and cholesterol-lowering fiber, lentils protect your heart from disease. Eating lentils helps you avoid getting constipated can help relieve IBS and diverticulosis.
You must soak lentils and then cook them later, preferably after an overnight soaking time. Bring them to a rapid boil, then lower the heat and let them simmer. They should stay fat with their skins still on them and not mushy.
Sweet and delicious mangoes are packed with vitamin A which helps your eyesight and can help you avoid night blindness. When you eat a mango, the enzymes help aid digestion and protection against stomach illnesses. The health benefits of mangoes are numerous, here are other benefits you should know about
- Lowers cholesterol, resulting from its high fiber content
- Helps you regulate type 2 diabetes
- Helps you lose weight
- Cancer fighter
- Helps your eyes stay healthy
Onions make you cry when you chop them up, but they’re good for you. They are high in antioxidants that help fight inflammation, reduce cholesterol, and basically lower your risk of heart disease. Did you know that onions can also protect you from blood clots? Onions are allium veggies that can thin your blood. This helps prevent blood clots that can result in a stroke or heart attack.
This sweet, tropical fruit is loaded with vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants. Pineapples aid digestion, and because pineapple is high in vitamin C, it helps your immune system. Other health benefits of pineapple include the following:
- Stomach health against diarrhea
- Circulation helps against blood clots
- Anti-inflammation for arthritis
- Boosts respiratory defense against sinus infections, bronchitis
This little-known fall fruit is worth checking out. Quince is a good source of magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, and copper. Green and similar to an apple or pear, quince is sour tasting with tough skin. Most people prefer to use quince in their fall baking, but it’s possible to develop a taste for unusual fruit flavor. Because it’s full of pectin, quince is perfect for making jams, jellies or marmalades. You can also use quince in pies or muffins.
Superfood raspberries are loaded with antioxidants that fight damage from free radicals. This tangy little berry is low calorie and high in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They contain flavonoids that boost your immune system plus selenium which is good for your brain function.
These delicious berries also provide you with the following:
- Beta carotene due to raspberries red color
- Lutein which is good for your eyes
- Zeaxanthin protects your eyes by building a yellow pigment-like shield that protects your eyes from harmful results of sunlight.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
A great plant source of protein, soybeans are eaten all over the world. The most popular type of soybean right now is edamame, which are immature soybeans still in the pod. They are grown in East Asia. Edamame is easy to make snack. Drizzle edamame with olive and sprinkle it with salt, warm in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. Eat only the tiny soybeans inside the pod. Yummy and addictive.
There has been an age-old debate about tomatoes being fruit or vegetable. Whatever you call them, tomatoes are delicious and so good for you. You can grow them in your backyard, buy them at the farmer’s market, or at your favorite organic grocery store, tomatoes are plentiful all year round.
Packed with vitamin C and flavonoids due to their red color, their antioxidant benefits can’t be beaten. Roasted, sauteed, or eaten raw tomatoes are the perfect addition to your menu.
As their name implies, they’re not much to look at, but they’re a healthy organic fruit to add to your diet. Rich in vitamin C, which boosts your antioxidants. Their proper name is a tangelo, a greenish-yellow orange looking citrus fruit. Ugli fruit is great in smoothies, sliced up into your morning cereal.
If you didn’t know already, you should have apple cider vinegar in your pantry. Choose an organic brand for the best health benefits. Vinegar is an old remedy to fight infections and boost the immune system. Vinegar helps you lose weight, lowers your blood sugar, and helps those control type 2 diabetes.
Dilute one level tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water, and then drink it as a morning tonic or add olive oil, salt, and pepper to your a little vinegar for a salad dressing. Vinegar is great in cooking, baking, and even cleaning around your house.
This is a leafy green plant that’s part of the kale and broccoli family. You’ll receive the benefits of the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
Watercress helps fight cancer, improves your brain function, has anti-inflammatory benefits, lowers your blood pressure, helps your skin, hair, and nails.
So can you think of food that starts with x? Of course, it’s the xigua (she- gwah). It’s got a yellowish-green rind with a soft flesh similar to a watermelon. Xigua grows on a bush in Africa and China, but it’s available in the United States, as well! The xigua is similar to a squash or pumpkin. This watermelon type of fruit is low calories. It is a superior source of vitamin C. Of course, Vitamin C provides antioxidant benefits that help repair cell damage and illnesses.
You might be curious to know more about the difference between a yam and a sweet potato. They do look alike. Sweet potato is smooth, with orange flesh, but a yam has a rough, dark skin with a bit of hair on the outside. It’s white or purple on the inside. Yams are starchy, sweet, and dry, but they’re full of good nutrition. Yams provide you with fiber, potassium, manganese, and antioxidants.
They boost your brain health, improve your blood sugar, and reduce inflammation. Peel the yams, slice, drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle salt on top of them. Bake in a medium oven for 30 minutes. Delicious.
This last food of the alphabet food should be one of the first on your list of organic foods. Zucchini is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids. They’re good for digestion, good bone health, and lowers your chances of heart disease. Roast zucchini, sautee it or use it in bread–it’s super versatile.
Just like any decision that impacts our life, we must look at the available information and our circumstances and make the best decisions for our families and us. Those decisions aren’t always black and white and may come with some compromise.
So here’s the question. Should we eat organic or not? There are questions about processed foods, sugars, and wheat as well. Do your research and come up with a nutritional plan that supports your beliefs, concerns, and your body.