Do Organic Foods Help You Lose Weight?

Posted: February 5, 2016 in Blog, Food

Let’s gaze into the crystal ball. We see you shopping for groceries. You’re in the produce section (because you know that fruits and vegetables good for you and help you lose weight!). You catch a glimpse of the organically grown apples (or carrots, or beans, etc.). You make a mental note. Then reach for the regular apples.

Are we right?

If we are, you probably skipped over the organically grown produce for one of two reasons:

1. Cost – Generally speaking, but not always, organically-grown foods, including produce, meats and dairy, are more expensive than conventionally produced foods. Consumer Reports found an average increase in price of 47% for organic foods versus their regular counterparts. The range they found in prices varied from organic honey that was 13% cheaper than the conventional variety, to an organic zucchini that was 303% more costly than a non-organic version.

2. Benefits – While the benefits of organic foods vary depending on your source of information, you’re not sure that any of them are worth the extra cost. And you’re not sure if they’re any better for weight loss or weight management.

 If point number one – cost –  is a problem, that’s not going to get better any time soon with the low Canadian dollar and fewer local choices for produce in winter.

As for whether the benefits are worth it, again, that depends on who you talk to and whether or not they are organic food proponents.

In a nutshell, the main, generally-accepted benefits of organic foods include that they are healthier, safer to eat, involve the more ethical treatment of animals and are more environmentally friendly.

On the other end of the spectrum, we found the following information about some of those benefits:

On the Dieticians of Canada website, regarding whether organic foods are more nutritious:

The small differences in nutrient levels in organic foods have not been found to benefit nutrition or overall health. Better quality studies are needed.

Residues on most products — both organic and nonorganic — don’t exceed government safety thresholds.

People often assume that organic certification guarantees humane treatment, but that’s just not the case.

While not trying to present one position over another, clearly there is some deliberation over the benefits of organic agriculture and the foods it produces.

But What About Weight Loss?

Forgetting all the other potential pluses and minuses, what if the benefits of eating organic foods included weight loss?  Much like the overall debate, whether organics help you lose weight is a question with a variety of answers, depending on who gives them. Similar lines are drawn between proponents of organic foods and the scientific data.

Two studies together provide just about the only scientific evidence we could find to support the potential for limited benefits to weight management from organic foods. As reported in U.S. News, a study at UK’s Newcastle University found that organic foods had 12% more healthy plant compounds, including polyphenols and flavanols.

In another study, unrelated to organic foods, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest that flavanols may help to stabilize blood sugar, and resveratrol, a polyphenol, may promote a feeling of fullness.

Other Considerations for Your Weight Loss

Without overwhelming evidence one way or another, you need to decide for yourself whether to make organic foods part of your diet. It’s important to keep in mind that the switch to a healthier life and lower weight isn’t always a straight forward decision. It’s about more than food, your body and weight. You are emotionally invested in the effort and the results. If eating organic foods for any reason helps to get you to eat more fruits and vegetables and, therefore, makes you feel better about your efforts and progress, then they could be worth far more than any extra cost they might have.

If you want to make sure you eat a healthy diet and get the right nutrition to help you lose weight and keep it off, the nutritional consultants at your nearby Herbal One Centre are there to help.