The science is piling up about the benefits of organic food.
We already know that organic produce, meat, and dairy is often nutritionally superior to conventional options. But now, evidence is mounting of substantial consumer health benefits among those who consistently look for, and purchase organic brands.
Research like the large French study (see all our special coverage of this important epidemiological study here) that reported a 25% decrease in cancer rates in the group that consumed the most organic foods, compared to the group consuming essentially none.
Another new study worth highlighting is the paper reporting a lower rate of diabetes among people who purchased the most organic food. The new research report was published in December 2018 in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients by a team of epidemiologists and nutrition scientists from Harvard and the University of Iowa.
The team surveyed 8,199 participants over 20 years of age that participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2007-2010. The researchers tracked the number of diabetes cases and determined the frequency of organic food purchase via a follow-up questionnaire.
Participants were asked if they had purchased any food labeled “organic” in the last 30 days, and how often (always, most of the time, sometimes, or rarely). The average age of participants was 49.7 years old.
The key finding? “Individuals who reported purchasing organic foods were less likely to have diabetes compared to those who did not report organic food purchase” (Sun et al., 2019). By “less likely,” the team means a 20% reduction in risk, based on their adjusted, statistically-significant Odds Ratio of .80 (95% CI 0.69-0.94).
And, this association was statistically significant even after adjusting for a long list of possible confounding factors, including age, gender, race, family history, dietary, lifestyle factors, and BMI.
Of the 8,199 participants, 2,899 (35%) purchased organic food always/most of the time. There were 343 cases of diabetes in this group who ate the most organic foods, oir 11.8%.
On the other hand, 5,300 (65%) of the participants surveyed did purchased little or no organic food, and there were 875 cases in this group, or 16.5%.
Interesting to note that this study, in keeping with earlier research on organic consumption, finds that people who eat more organic food often tend to be higher educated, have a higher income, and better overall health. However, it is important to note that the inverse association between organic food and diabetes identified by this team held true after adjustment for these factors.
Sun, Y., Liu, B., Du, Y., Snetselaar, L. G., Sun, Q., Hu, F. B., & Bao, W., “Inverse Association between Organic Food Purchase and Diabetes Mellitus in US Adults. Nutrients,” Nutrients, 2018, 10:12, DOI:10.3390/nu10121877.