Study Shows Small Difference Between Organic and Conventional Foods

First author Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler, MD, emphasized the overall effect of the study was to get people to make better eating habits overall.

Those looking for drastic differences in the health benefits of organic and conventional foods may be in need of another alternative for feeling fit, according to a recent study from Stanford University. Published in the Sept. 4 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, it completed the most comprehensive meta-analysis to date in the comparison of organic and conventional foods.

The study concluded there was no strong evidence organic foods are more nutritious, nor did they carry fewer health risks than their conventional counterparts. The authors did find that consuming organic foods can lower the risk of pesticide exposure, however.

"There isn't much difference between organic and conventional foods, if you're an adult and making a decision based solely on your health," said Dr. Dena Bravata, MD, the senior author of the paper. Bravata went on to note that the results of the study are not intended to discourage people from eating organic foods, as there are plenty of other reasons to buy organic versus conventional, including taste preferences, effects of conventional farming on the environment, and animal welfare.

First author Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler, MD, an instructor at the school and a physician-investigator at VA Palo Alto Health Care System, emphasized the overall effect of the study was to get people to make better eating habits overall. "Our goal was to shed light on what the evidence is," she said. "This is information that people can use to make their own decisions based on their level of concern about pesticides, their budget, and other considerations."

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