Organic Versus Nonorganic: Healthier Fruit Flies Reveal Truth Behind Food

First Posted: Mar 27, 2013 02:01 PM EDT

There's a new incentive to eat organic products. A study aimed at determining the potential health benefits of organic versus nonorganic food found that fruit flies that ate an organic diet were healthier.

The debate about whether organic food has any health benefits over nonorganic food has peppered the media for years. Prior studies by other researchers have found conflicting results over the matter, and one large-scale analysis of all available studies concluded that no clear trend was apparent. Yet this latest study may not only show that organic food is healthier, but also why other studies may have had conflicting results.

In the latest study, published in the journal PLOS One, researchers used the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster in order to find out whether organic is better. Fruit flies are often used in labs in order to study human diseases--everything from diabetes to heart function to Alzheimer's disease. In this case, the fruit flies were fed organic and nonorganic produce that was purchased from a leading national grocery retailer. The produce included extracts from potatoes, soybeans, raisin and bananas. The fruit flies were not fed any additional nutritional supplements. In addition, the researchers tested the effects of each food type independently in order to avoid any odd results due to a mixed diet.

The next step was to actually test the fruit flies. The insects were examined for overall fitness. In particular, their longevity, fertility, stress and starvation resistance were measured. Overall, researchers found that fruit flies fed the organic diet had a higher health level than those fed nonorganic foods.

That doesn't mean all the organic foods were equal, though. Some negative or neutral results were actually obtained when fruit flies were fed the organic raisins. This could potentially explain the inconsistent results in other published studies and show that not all organic foods are created equal.

"To our surprise, in the majority of our tests of flies on organic foods, the flies fed organic diets did much better on our health tests than the flies fed conventional food," said Johannes Bauer, one of the researchers involved in the study, in a press release. "They lived longer, had higher fertility and had a much higher lifetime reproductive output."

Next time you go to the grocery store, you may want to rethink your purchases; just remember to steer clear of the raisins.

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