Organic food is more and more present on the menu of those who seek a healthy, balanced and nutrient-rich diet. In this sense, they stand out for their health benefits. Besides not containing chemicals dangerous to our body, they present a higher nutritional value.
This characteristic is reflected in our health. Eating in a balanced way and investing in quality food brings improvements to the functioning of the body as a whole. The digestive and immune systems, the metabolism, the quality of sleep, the performance in physical activities, even the skin and hair, are positively affected.
We list below the main advantages of organic food consumption, both for the environment and for those who consume.
After all, what are organic foods?
In synthesis, they are those produced free of agrotoxics, without the use of artificial substances, synthetic pesticides, petroleum based fertilizers or ionizing radiations. They cannot yet undergo any genetic alteration, use of hormones or transgenics. In addition, they must be cultivated in safe soil, separated from conventional plantations.
The organic food, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, must still be produced or extracted in a sustainable system for the environment and the producing communities. Sustainable production techniques need to optimize not only natural resources, but also socioeconomic ones.
This includes ecological sustainability, as well as prioritizing the use of renewable and clean energy, in terms of respect for the culture and development of rural communities. Products need to respect standards that ensure the quality of the working environment, as well as methods of distribution and marketing.
Organics of animal origin and industrialized
Although fruits and vegetables are the main focus when talking about organic food, the concept covers other types of products. The classification includes those of animal origin (meat, eggs, milk) and industrialized products, which must contain at least 95% organic ingredients.
As for products of animal origin, they must be raised loose with access to pasture, and fed in an organic way. The animals are treated mainly with phytotherapic and homeopathic medicines, besides being fed free of agrotoxics. No antibiotics or hormones to influence growth. Finally, the farms that raise this type of animal, to receive the certification, still need to ensure the protection of the riverheads and are forbidden to use fire in the management of pastures.
Main benefits of organic food
As we have seen, conscious eating goes beyond the plate – resulting in benefits for the health of consumers and rural producers as well as for the environment and the local economy.
In terms of health, consuming this type of food often has a significant impact on our bodies. Ingesting organic vegetables and animal products contributes to better nutrition. Check out the main benefits of organic food:
Lower toxicity index and substances harmful to health
Due to the production process that excludes pesticides and artificial fertilizers, hormones, additives and other harmful substances, they are safer foods. Thus, producers and consumers have less contact with toxic products. This drastically reduces the probability of containing residues of harmful substances.
Those who eat organics are less likely to have allergic and respiratory crises, overweight, as well as other complications associated with additives. Among them, neurological problems, hormonal disorders, even cancer and other diseases.
In addition to all the health benefits already mentioned, it is also worth highlighting food safety. This is because vegetables and organic animal products are grown and produced without the use of agrochemicals. As far as there is a rigorous process of inspection, such foods are more reliable.
They have more nutrients
Scientific studies have proven that, due to the form of cultivation, organic food has a higher concentration of important nutrients. For instance, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants appear in greater quantity in organic than in its conventional versions. In short, they are more beneficial to health.
One of the hypotheses suggests that the nutritional value of non-organic foods can be harmed by chemical fertilizers. This is because they accelerate the development of plants by increasing the amount of water present in them. In this way, the nutrients are diluted in this larger amount of liquid.
Another says that since there is no use of pesticides and fungicides in cultivation, plants need to increase their production of protective substances against threats such as microorganisms and pests. Therefore, they reflect in a higher content of nutrients.
A study reviewed by researchers at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom found important differences in organic and non-organic animal foods. Analyzing samples of meat, milk and eggs the great advantage found was the higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids (a type of healthy fat) and vitamin E. In addition, a lower concentration of cadmium (a toxic metal) was detected in organic derivatives of animal origin. Among the possible causes, it would be the type of pasture and food offered to the animals.
Higher phytochemicals content
Phytochemicals are the antioxidant substances contained in vegetables. They confer the characteristic colors of these foods and help to protect against diseases. It is the case of beta-carotene present in carrots or lycopene present in tomatoes. Consequently, not using pesticides results in a higher concentration of these compounds.
Orange and Yellow: they are those rich in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system. They also have vitamin A, which helps to reduce the risks of heart diseases. Among the sources we can mention apricot, orange, papaya, melon and pineapple.
Red: the lycopene is the pigment responsible for the red color of this antioxidant substance. It helps to prevent heart diseases and several types of cancer, including prostate cancer. Tomato, red guava, watermelon, for example, are excellent sources of this nutrient.
White: foods such as onion, garlic, spring onion and leek are rich in alicine. The substance that combats infections and contributes to the reduction of cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.
Blue and Purple: the anthocyanin is the antioxidant pigment responsible for the black, red, purple and blue coloring of several fruits and vegetables, such as eggplant, blackberry and purple cabbage. Its contribution to health is to prevent cardiovascular diseases and cancer, besides reducing cholesterol.
Popularly known by the name of transgenics, genetically modified organisms are those whose DNA has been altered. Thus, plants and animals are no longer produced in nature or in traditional crossings. They end up being advantageous for the producers for being more resistant to plagues and other types of diseases.
The harm of these foods to human health is still imprecise. IDEC (Brazilian Institute of Consumer Protection) lists some problems such as: increased allergies, increased resistance to antibiotics, increases in toxic substances, and risks to the environment.
Availability of organic food
Unfortunately, organic food is not yet as affordable and easy to find. This is because production and transportation costs tend to be higher. The trend is that, with increased demand and technological innovations, these coasts will go down and organic products will become more routine on the day by day of the population.