|Organic veg is better for your heart
Organic food really is better for you than conventionally grown crops, according to new research.
The study showed that organic tomatoes have almost double the amount of antioxidants called flavonoids found in conventionally grown ones
A 10-year study comparing organic tomatoes with rival produce suggests they have almost double the amount of antioxidants called flavonoids that protect the heart.
According to the findings, levels of quercetin and kaempferol were found to be on average 79 per cent and 97 per cent higher, respectively, in organic tomatoes.
Flavonoids can fight heart disease, blood pressure and strokes, and have been linked to staving off some forms of cancer and dementia, said Dr Alyson Mitchell, who led the research.
Differences in soil quality, irrigation and the handling of harvested produce have made direct comparisons difficult in the past, she said.
In the study, due to be published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the researchers used data from a long-term project that used standardised farming techniques.
Dr Mitchell, of California University, said the findings can be explained by the availability of nitrogen in the soil. Flavonoids are produced as a defence mechanism that can be triggered by nutrient deficiency.
The inorganic nitrogen in conventional fertiliser is easily available to plants and so, the team suggests, lower levels of flavonoids are probably caused by over-fertilising the soil.
But Gerry Hayman, the technical expert of the British Tomatoes Growers' Association, doubted there would be much difference between organic and traditionally grown tomatoes from Britain.
"We use similar growing techniques here whether the tomatoes are organic or not, so the nutrients are of a high standard," he said.
Even if such benefits exist, higher flavonoid levels do not necessarily make organic food healthier than processed food, said Sir John Krebs, former chair of the Food Standards Agency and now at Oxford University.
He said: "Tomato ketchup has higher levels of lycopene, a strong antioxidant, than tomatoes. So if you wanted lots of lycopene you should eat ketchup."
Doctors say that eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is the best way to consume antioxidants.
• Sausages and burgers contain varying levels of meat and some brands have more than 25 per cent fat, according to a survey by Which? magazine.
Tesco Value frozen sausages had the lowest meat content at 30 per cent. Asda's Good for You pork sausages and Bowyers 95 per cent fat-free sausages were bulked up with cooked rice.
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