Is Organic Weight Loss Better?

October 3, 2012

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organicAs organic foods become more popular and readily available you may wonder if your weight loss plan should go organic too.

In general organic foods are raised without the use of synthetic (man made) pesticides or chemicals. In order to claim the “certified organic” label, farmers must go through a stringent verification process to ensure their farming methods are indeed organic.

Smaller farmers, such as those selling direct at farmer’s markets or through subscription-based programs known as Community Supported Agriculture, or CSAs, may use organic farming practices but not necessarily be “certified organic.”

The availability of organic foods – from dairy to meat to fruits and veggies – is increasing making these items easier and easier to find. However, because organic methods tend to be more labor intensive and done on a smaller scale, prices still tend to be higher for organically raised foods which can be a definite drawback.

Still, I recommend that my patients opt for organic foods, and especially locally grown fresh and in season foods, whenever possible. In my experience these foods tend to be fresher, of higher quality, and taste better.

Research is mixed as to whether foods grown organically are nutritionally superior to foods grown with conventional farming methods. But even if organic and non-organic foods are equal in nutritional content, the point really is that these foods don’t include the potentially harmful residues, growth hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals their non-organic counterparts may contain.

Certain foods known as “the dirty dozen” are considered to have the highest potential levels of pesticide residue, so opting for organic versions of these foods is a wise idea. The list includes: apples, celery, sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries, and potatoes.

Likewise, there are foods that are unlikely to contain pesticide residues, even when not grown organically, nicknamed “the clean 15.” They include onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocados, cabbage, sweet peas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, kiwi, domestic cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, watermelon, and mushrooms. If your budget only allows some organic foods, opt to buy ones from “the dirty dozen” list first.

One more thing to keep in mind – organic foods still contain the same number of calories as their non-organic counterparts, so don’t be deceived into thinking organic cookies and other high calorie foods are any better for you. Portion sizes still apply.

Being more aware of the food choices you are making, including opting for high quality organic foods for weight loss, is a key part of learning how to lose weight for the long term and live a healthier lifestyle.

Dr. Michael Kaplan

Founder and Chief Medical Officer

The Center for Medical Weight Loss



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