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Is it true that eating organic food stops you having a heart attack

01:00 Mon 01st Apr 2002 |

asks rtell:
There's no guarantee that it can stop them, but new research shows that eating organic food can reduce your risk of heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

I thought it wasn't supposed to make any difference to your health...
There was no scientific evidence to suggest that it was, and the head of the British Food Standards Agency, John Krebs, said that organic food was no better. However it has been popular with consumers who wanted to avoid eating the herbicides, pesticides and fungicides that were used on fruit and vegetables, and the antibiotics given to farmed animals. Supermarkets are carrying an increasingly larger range of organic goods.

Q. What's in organic food that's so healthy
John Paterson, a biochemist at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, together with a team of researchers from the University of Strathclyde, found that organic vegetable soups contain almost six times as much salicylic acid as non-organic vegetable soups.

The average level of salicylic acid in 11 brands of organic vegetable soup on sale in Britain was 117 nanograms per gram, compared with 20 ng/g in 24 types of non-organic soup. The highest concentration of the acid, 1040 ng/g, was found in carrot and coriander soup made by Simply Organic based in Bilston Glen, Scotland, while it was not detectable in four traditional soups made by Scottish company Baxters.

Q. What's salicylic acid
It's the part of aspirin that has the anti-inflammatory action and helps fight against hardening of the arteries and bowel cancer.

Q. Where does it come from
Salicylic acid is produced naturally in plants as a defence against stress and disease. This could explain why levels are higher in organic vegetables, which are generally grown without protection from pesticides.

Earlier research by Paterson's team found significantly higher concentrations of salicylic acid in the blood of vegetarian Buddhist monks compared with that of meat-eaters.

Q. What does the Food Standards Agency say now
It now promises to study the new evidence. 'We are aware of the suggested benefits of high levels of salicylic acid and will look at what the report has to say,' a spokeswoman says.

'I'm not an evangelist for the organic food movement,' says John Paterson, 'but there was a fairly substantial difference.'

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By Sheena Miller

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