They also taste better

by Caroline Brown

Last year we learned from researchers at UT-Austin that that fruit and vegetables are less nutritious than they were 30 years ago, due to agricultural techniques that increase their size but don’t allow them to properly develop nutrients. This year we learn from scientists at University of California that organic tomatoes have more disease-busting flavonoids than non-organic tomatoes.

In this study, the researchers measured the amounts of quercetin and kaempferol, two flavonoids, in dried tomato samples. They found that levels of quercetin were 79% higher, and kaempferol 97% higher in the organic tomatoes, compared to the non-organic ones.

Flavonoids are known to lower high blood pressure, which decreases the risk of heart disease and stroke, and are thought to prevent cancer and dementia. The UC scientists believe that the flavonoid levels depend on the quality of the soil, citing the absence of chemical fertilizers as the reason for higher levels of the compounds.

When nitrogen levels are not high enough in the soil, plants produce flavanoids as a defence mechanism. If inorganic nitrogen, which is present in everyday fertilizers, are applied to the soil, this over-fertilization may hinder flavonoid production.

Incidentally this study is forthcoming in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, which is about:

Chemistry and biochemistry of agriculture and food along with safety, composition and processing; including feeds, pesticides, veterinary drugs, plant growth regulators, fertilizers, and other agro-chemicals with their metabolism, toxicology, and environmental fate and the chemical processes involved in nutrition, phytonutrients, flavors, and aromas.

Wow. Maybe I’ll grab my copy of Mother Earth News instead.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

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2 Comments to “They also taste better”

  1. So true C, so true, I can almost taste the pic!!!

    Do tell the felines that we now have a ‘Mr. Cheddar’ in the family, soon to be featured on Veggies….

    Hope all is well, miss you and my other blog buds, will be back very soon.

    Hugs, G

  2. I have also seen research that posits the reason for increased salicylate levels (the active ingredient in aspirin, which is often prescribed to ‘thin’ the blood) in organic vegetables is that it is a response to pest attack. Pesticides = no pests = lowered salicylates.

    I do think it’s odd that there is a meme afoot that talks about ‘disease-fighting substances’ in what should be normal food, yet always manages to gloss over the point that comes out in reverse: that the lack of these substances may be responsible for the current levels and types of diseases.

    The food industry being what it is, I doubt you’ll ever see a report that comes out and says it.

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