The results contradict a 2012 research report from Stanford University that found organic foods were no healthier than conventional foods.
The United Kingdom project involved an international group of experts led by Newcastle University that analyzed 343 previous studies, according to a news release.
The researchers found that organic crops and crop-based foods were up to 60% higher in several key antioxidants than foods from conventionally grown crops.
They also showed that organic crops were four times less likely to contain pesticide residues than their conventional counterparts and that organic crops had on average 48% lower cadmium levels than conventional crops.
Cadmium, a heavy metal toxic in high doses, has been linked to kidney failure, bone softening and liver damage.
“The nutritional differences between conventional and organic crops have always been a much-debated topic,” Jessica Shade, science programs director for the Brattleboro, Vt.,-based The Organic Center, said in the release. “This significant study reevaluates the issue from a more inclusive, statistically accurate standpoint and strongly shows that organic fruits and vegetables have definite health benefits to conventionally grown products.”
Based on the study’s results, she said that consumers could gain up to 40% more antioxidants just by switching from conventional to organic foods.
Shade credited the differing report outcomes to additional research that had been conducted since the Stanford report was issued.
With more research came more data from which to cull, she said. The Newcastle study analyzed 343 studies compared with Stanford’s analysis of about 200 research papers.
The Newcastle report is scheduled to be published July 15 in the British Journal of Nutrition.