Organic foods have the same vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, lipids, and other nutrients as conventional foods, but they also have lower pesticide levels, which may be significant for children, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) report released at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans. Organically raised animals are also less likely to be contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria because organic farming rules prohibit the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics, the report noted.
“Organic Foods: Health and Environmental Advantages and Disadvantages,” an extensive analysis of the scientific evidence surrounding organic produce, dairy products, and meat, is designed to offer guidance to parents and the pediatricians caring for their children’s health.
Currently there is no direct evidence that consuming an organic diet leads to improved health or a lower risk of disease in the long term, the report suggested. However, no large studies in humans have been performed that address this issue specifically.
Key points in the AAP report include the following:
• Most important for children’s health is that they eat a healthy diet of conventional or organic foods rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
• Cost may be a factor in making food choices. Families with a limited food budget should not need to consume smaller amounts of more expensive organic foods and thus reduce their overall intake of healthy foods.
• If cost is a factor, families can be selective in choosing organic foods and some conventionally grown fruits and vegetables have lower pesticide residues.
• Organic shopper's guides, such as those provided by Consumer Reports and the Environmental Working Group, may serve as useful references for patients.
• There is no individual health benefit from purchasing organic milk, but all milk should be pasteurized to reduce the risk of bacterial infections. Raw milk increases the risk of serious infection with bacteria.
• Purchasing meat from organic farms that do not use antibiotics for nontherapeutic uses has the potential to reduce antibiotic resistance in bacteria that infect people.
• The motivation to choose organic produce, meat, and dairy products may be reasonably based on larger environmental issues, as well as human health factors, such as pollution and global climate change.
For more information, visit the AAP Web site at http://www.aap.org.