Do Organic Foods Make Any Difference to Our Hearts?
Organic foods have a lot going for them. When you think of organics, your mind is probably taken to open pastures with cows grazing, loving their lives in idyllic surroundings. To be sure, many farms prioritize animal welfare and the highest quality feed. However, does this translate to improved heart health?
It is not necessarily organic food that will improve most patients’ heart health, especially if they suffer from excess weight or other metabolic diseases. Instead, it is what organic represents that should be focused on. In other words, if you don’t have access to organic food or if the cost of organic food is difficult to justify, switching the most egregious foods you eat for healthier options is a great start, organic or not. As an example, there is a tendency to buy highly processed foods. Whether organic or not, these foods may contain significant amounts of saturated fat and sodium, which are terrible for your heart health. Again, the fact that it is organic does not necessarily mean nutritionally sound.
There is also the tendency to buy organic food as a supplement or compensation for an otherwise unhealthy diet. Maybe drinking healthy organic milk compensates for that daily soda. It doesn’t.
Even if you have switched to a completely organic diet, you still have to choose what products you consume carefully. Organic juices, for example, still have dozens of grams of sugar per serving, some approaching your total daily allowance. Organically fed animal proteins, like red meat, may contain far more saturated fat than you should be consuming. The point is that the organic label does not represent a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet.
The Benefits of Organic
While this article seems to be down on organic foods, that is certainly not the intention. Organic foods have numerous benefits, including all-natural ingredients without the use of pesticides and without being genetically modified. While we still don’t have definitive data on whether GM foods and pesticides affect our bodies negatively, it doesn’t hurt to avoid them. Plus, organic and pasture-raised animal products often taste better while accounting for, in many cases, improved animal welfare.
Instead, the true purpose of this article was to make sure we keep our diets in perspective and understand that restoring our cardiovascular health is a slow march in the right direction. We don’t necessarily have to jump to the other side of the spectrum when there is so much we can do right now. Cutting out the most egregious food and drinks we consume is the first step we must take. From there, we can decide whether organic food is the next step in our dietary overhaul. Ultimately, a combination of lifestyle improvements through improved diet, increased exercise, smoking cessation, and moderation of alcohol consumption will improve our overall health and heart health the most.
The Heart House is by your side throughout, and we look forward to helping you change your lifestyle to minimize risks to your heart health.