Conventional agriculture, which depends on heavy applications of chemical fertilizers, chemical pesticides and irrigation, may inhibit plants’ natural production of cancer-fighting flavonoids, while organic agriculture, which does not use synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers, may actually promote the production of flavonoids.
Flavonoids are plant by-products believed to protect the plant from insects, bacterial and fungal infection and photo-oxidation. These plant chemicals are also thought to be useful in preventing cancer and heart disease and combating age-related neurological dysfunctions.
Flavonoids work by protecting the cell against damage caused by active oxygen radicals. Oxygen radicals can cause cancer and are also associated with cardiovascular disease and age-related nerve cell damage.
In studies comparing conventional farming with organic and sustainable (environmentally sound) farming of berries and corn, organic and sustainable produce was significantly higher in flavonoids than conventional produce.
Although previous studies did not evaluate flavonoids, results indicated that conventionally produced foods had higher levels of nitrates and synthetic pesticides and fewer total solids than organic foods.
The natural compounds showed various functions in the cell, including the potential to kill cancer cells or prevent them from spreading. Using plant chemicals in the treatment of cancer could enhance cure rates if combined with standard treatment methods, according to researchers.
Other studies have shown that flavonoids have protective effects against cardiovascular disease and cancer, although separate studies have found that the compounds have no effect, and a few have suggested they could have harmful effects.
Plant chemicals may also be useful in combating age-related neurological dysfunctions such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, which are associated with long-term oxidative stress.
There is substantial evidence to suggest that flavonoids, which are more plentiful in organic than conventional foods, are effective in the fight against cancer, heart disease and age-related neurological dysfunction. Additionally, increasing evidence indicates that organic farming gives high yields and is more beneficial to the environment than conventional farming.
According to researchers, supporters of genetically modified foods often deny or ignore this large body of evidence.
Journal Agricultural Food Chemistry February 26, 2003;51(5):1237-41
The reasons why you should seek organic foods whenever possible continue to increase; however, dont become overly distressed if you cant get them. It is far better to get fresh vegetables, whether organic or not, and consume no sugar then eat cooked vegetables and have sugar regularly.
The benefits of increasing vegetables and limiting sugar in the diet are discussed extensively in my new book, Dr. Mercola's Total Health Program.