You hear it over and over. Organic foods hold the upper hand over processed foods in terms of their overall health benefits. The common sentiment seems to be the more natural a food is, the better it is for you. Processed foods can get cluttered with chemicals and other questionable ingredients, but with organic products it’s easier to know exactly what you’re putting into your body.
Old habits can be hard to break. Suddenly switching to an all-organic diet can be costly and inconvenient. But that doesn’t mean you should give up entirely on going organic. With a number of foods, buying organic can make a big difference. If switching to an all-organic diet won’t happen for you, here are five foods that you can easily buy organic—and that’ll serve you up tremendous benefits.
RELATED: How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank
1. Kick Up Your Ketchup
If you’re one of those people who thinks ketchup is technically a vegetable, let me drop some knowledge on you. If you’re talking about processed ketchup, you’re pretty much completely wrong. But if you’re talking about organic ketchup, you might have a point (though you still shouldn’t replace real veggies with ketchup). Everyone’s favorite tomato-based condiment complements nearly any food, but people have a tendency to use much more than the recommended serving size.
This is especially problematic with conventional processed ketchup. Although organic ketchup and processed ketchup are fairly similar in their nutritional profiles—both are high in sugar, but organic is slightly lower in sodium and calories—the higher antioxidant content of organic ketchup is redeeming. Organic ketchup contains higher levels of polyphenolic compounds such as phenolic acids, flavonols and flaganones, which can aid in the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease, among other ailments. One study found that organic ketchups contain three times the amount of lycopene than fast-food ketchup; another found that organic tomatoes (the ones used in making organic ketchup) contain 55 percent more vitamin C.
2. Organic Milk Balances the Healthy Fats
The life of the cow greatly impacts the quality of the milk it produces. Ideally, the cow has been grass-fed (as opposed to grain-fed), allowed to graze freely and be without antibiotics and growth hormones. Although the nutrition profiles of organic and non-organic milk may look nearly identical on their labels, a big difference lies in the types of fat they contain. Research has shown that organic milk contains 62 percent more omega-3 fatty acids and 25 percent less omega-6 fatty acids than non-organic milk. The benefits of a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids has been noted before, but a truly healthy diet cannot be attained if the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids isn’t optimal.