Food advocates across North America are aware of the rising popularity with organically grown foods. Aside from its health benefits, the main difference between organically grown and conventionally grown products are the chemicals involved during the process and production. Organic products are grown without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, growth hormones and must not be processed using industrial solvents, genetic engineering or irradiation according to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).
To familiarize yourself with some key points and what you need to know about organic foods, read The Zone article, Organic Foods | What Do You Need To Know?
Over the years, consumers have been transitioning to organic, joining an overall movement towards living a healthy lifestyle. Due to the high consumer demand, organic products can be found nearly everywhere nowadays and the selection of products to choose from can be very overwhelming.
This article is designed to provide you with suggestions on what organic foods to consume if you are looking to try organic products or looking to broaden your organic diet.
Let’s take a look at 10 organic foods you should be eating:
Meat contains a high amount of vitamin B12, B3 (niacin), B6, iron, zinc, selenium along with other various vitamins and minerals to help nourish the body. Bodybuilder’s can benefit from consuming meat as it provides a moderate amount of creatine and contains a high amount of protein. Organic livestock raised to provide organic meats do not eat any food which contains synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, sewage sludge or radiation. Organic meat contains less fat, has better fatty ratios and is leaner than conventional meat. If you include meat in your diet, the best meat comes from livestock raised on a diet which consists of natural foods.
Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt etc) can provide improved bone health, growth and development through nutrients such as calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein. Organic dairy products must come from cows which have not been fed artificial growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides or fertilizers. Milk which comes from organic fed livestock has a much higher level of omega-3 fatty acids, CLA, antioxidants and vitamins. Only a small percentage of milk sold in the United States was of the organic variety. As the demand became higher with its consumers, now over 20% of the milk sold in the United States is organic. Organic milk provides you with more nutrients and is a healthier alternative than conventional milk.
Cocoa is rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. It has the ability to provide the body with carbohydrates, protein and dietary fiber. Cocoa can provide relief from high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, prevents obesity, constipation and diabetes from occurring. Cocoa can be used to create raw cocoa powder or cocoa butter, which is used to manufacture chocolate. Unlike conventional cocoa bean, organic cocoa beans are not sprayed with synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. Organic chocolate can be a very healthy alternative without having guilty pleasure properties.
Apples provide you with a great source of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. The average apple which is grown conventionally contains more pesticide residue than any other fruit or vegetable. In an analysis of USDA’s data performed by the EWG (Environmental Working Group), it revealed that 98 percent of approximately 700 washed apples showed pesticide residue on them. Organic apples eliminate the use of pesticides during production and should be considered over conventionally grown apples.
Lettuce is low in calories and comes in a variety of forms, such as leaf, iceberg and romaine to name a few. Lettuce contains calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and vitamins A, B-6, C, E and K along with thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. Lettuce can provide a steady supply of antioxidants, lower inflammation, lower cholesterol levels and even lower the chances of cancer. Due to the large surface area on lettuce leaves, pesticides can stick to lettuce much more easier. It also does not have skin on it, so you must wash conventionally grown lettuce very thoroughly to wash off most of the pesticides. As organic lettuce is grown without the use of pesticides, this can be a healthier alternative over conventionally grown lettuce and also save you some preparation time as well.
Spinach is nutrient dense and considered a ‘superfood’ which is high in niacin, zinc, protein, fiber and loaded with vitamins A, B-6, C, E and K, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and manganese. Spinach strengthens your bones, protects against eye diseases, combats against prostate cancer and is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. According to the USDA Pesticide Data Program, there are 48 pesticide residues found in conventionally grown spinach. Much like its green leaf counterpart, lettuce, conventionally grown spinach much be washed thoroughly to wash off most of the pesticides. Organic spinach is pesticide free and can be a very healthy alternative.
Blueberries are often consumed in fresh or dried form and are low in calories but very high in antioxidants and nutrients. Studies have revealed that blueberries can protect against DNA damage which is the leading cause behind aging and cancer. Conventionally grown blueberries are sprayed with pesticides and contain roughly up to 52 pesticide chemicals. This is typically due to the thin skin on the blueberry allowing the chemicals to seep through the fruit’s flesh. A publication in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that organic blueberries contain more nutritional content such as fructose, glucose, citric acid, malic acid and ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) values compared to blueberries grown conventionally.
Tomatoes contain a rich source of antioxidants which has been proven to combat against many forms of cancer. Red, green and cherry tomatoes are a popular ingredient in many food dishes to add a little bit of flavoring. According to the USDA Pesticide Program, tomatoes carry 69 different types of pesticides. Conventionally farmed tomatoes involves the spraying of pesticides and insecticides, whereas organic tomatoes are not exposed to chemical contamination. Peeling off the skin off your tomatoes would be tedious and time consuming. Why not go organic instead?
Cucumbers provide a number of very impressive health benefits and are rich in vitamins A, B and C and minerals such as magnesium, potassium and silicon. Cucumbers are 96 percent water and provide health benefits which keep you hydrated, help with weight loss, aid in muscle and joint pain and stabilizes blood pressure. According to the 2015 EWG report of dirtiest produce, cucumbers ranked in the top 10 and was found to have more than 86 different types of pesticides. When it comes to cucumbers, you have two options: 1.) remove the waxy skin which holds most of the residue or 2.) go organic.
Potatoes are a staple dietary item in many households in the United States. Potatoes can be a very good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, copper, niacin and dietary fiber. The fibre digests slowly allowing you to feel full for longer. Based on the 2015 EWG report, potatoes contained more pesticides by weight than any other produce. Aside from pesticides contained in conventional potatoes, lab tests have revealed that conventional potatoes have 6, 7 neurotoxins, 6 cancer causing substances, 7 reproductive toxins and 12 other chemicals which may lead to hormone problems. Opting for organic potatoes can eliminate any of these harmful and unpleasant effects.
Take Home Message
The absence of chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers and growth hormones make organic foods a healthier alternative over conventionally grown foods. According to research and studies, organic foods contain a higher nutritional value over conventionally grown foods. It’s no wonder why organic foods are so popular and the consumer demand is at an all-time high. If you are in the market to try organic foods or are seeking to broaden your organic diet, give these 10 organic foods a try!