Can Organic Fruits and Vegetables Help Prevent Cancer?

Baskets of organic vegetables
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When you're roaming the aisles in the grocery store, you often face an important decision: Should you buy organic foods, like organic fruits and vegetables, or regular old fruits and vegetables as a way to help prevent cancer? Find out the facts, below. 

Nutrition of Organic Vs. Non-Organic Foods

First off, organic and non-organic versions of the same foods are essentially equal in nutritional value.

In other words, the organic banana that you ate this morning will not provide better nutrition than the non-organic banana that you passed up at the supermarket.

Price Difference and Accessibility

Organic produce isn't always available at every supermarket, and it does cost a bit more than non-organic produce. So if you're shopping on a tight budget, that is a factor worth considering. 

How Harmful Are Pesticides? 

Organic fruits and vegetables have not been exposed to pesticides and chemicals, but regular fruits and vegetables have been. What does this mean for your health? 

The chemicals that are used in non-organically grown foods have been thoroughly studied. The consensus among major peer-reviewed studies is that consuming non-organic fruits and vegetables is not harmful to your health. However, this point is debated by organic food advocates, and some people refuse to believe that these foods are safe to consume.

Based on the scientific data that is available today, there is no evidence that would force the FDA and USDA to change their regulations about the use of pesticides and other chemicals in agricultural production.

When used in the wrong capacity, pesticides and herbicides can be harmful to your health.

However, the amount of chemical residue that's found on fruits and vegetables is low. And it's even lower if you rinse and scrub your produce before consuming it, which is recommended. (By the way, you should wash organic produce, too, because it can still help get rid of any dirt, pieces of bugs, and bacteria like Listeria, Salmonella, and E. coli.) All in all, most experts agree that the nutritional benefits of eating fruits and vegetables outweigh any small risk of consuming chemical residue on non-organically grown produce. 

Preventing Cancer

The American Cancer Society recommends a diet that's packed with many fresh fruits and vegetables to help reduce your risk of cancer. Does organic produce help prevent cancer any more than non-organic produce? Here's what the organization has to say about that. 

"The term organic is popularly used to designate plant foods grown without pesticides and genetic modifications. At this time, no research exists to demonstrate whether such foods are more effective in reducing cancer risk than are similar foods produced by other farming methods."

The Bottom Line

If money is no object, or you think that organic foods taste better, or you want to support organic farm practices, or you believe that future research will show that organic foods are, in fact, better for the body, then, by all means, buy organic.

But in short, regular old fruits and veggies are a safe choice and some of the best foods that you can put in your body.

Try to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, the average American eats only 43% of the recommended amount of fruit and only 57% of the recommended amount of vegetables. So whether you buy organic or non-organic produce, try filling half your plate at every meal with colorful, nutritious fruits and veggies. 

This article can help you figure out typical serving sizes for many popular fruits and vegetables, and this other one can help you figure out how to sneak more into your daily diet.

 

Source:

American Cancer Society. ACS Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention. May 19, 2006. 

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/research

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