BACKGROUND: Organic food is perceived as being of better quality and healthier than conventional foods although the scientific research on organic foodstuffs is highly contradictory. The aim of the present study was to investigate if intake of carrots from four different cultivation systems grown in two consecutive years would influence various biomarkers of health in a rat model. All rats were fed a diet with 40% carrot content. The carrots were grown under conventional (C), ‘minimalistic’ organic (O1), organic (O2), or ‘very’ organic cultivation systems (O3). A control group (CO) being fed standard rat chow was included.
RESULTS: The plasma α-tocopherol concentration was higher in the O2 carrot-based diet group than in the C carrot based-diet group in one year, while all other health biomarkers or nutrient content differences were observed between the CO diet and the carrot-based diets.
CONCLUSION: This well-controlled field study demonstrated no clear influence of cultivation methods or harvest year on the nutritional quality of carrots or effect of cultivation methods on health-related biomarkers in a sensitive rat model. However, the experimental set-up and selected biomarkers could be used as a framework for further studies of health in relation to organic foodstuff. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry