Fruit flies are healthier on an organic diet - what about you?

It's a hotly debated issue in the food industry: does "organic" really mean it's better?

And while that question may continue to go unanswered for a long time, new research suggests that, in terms of health benefits, organic may indeed be the smarter choice.

Using fruit flies to study human conditions like diabetes or Alzheimer's disease, researchers at Southern Methodist University found that fruit flies raised on a diet of organic foods performed better on several tests for general health.

"While these findings are certainly intriguing, what we now need to determine is why the flies on the organic diets did better, especially since not all the organic diets we tested provided the same positive health outcomes," said Johannes H. Bauer, principal investigator for the study.

Long life, improved fertility

The most notable improvements in the fruit flies were seen in terms of their longevity and fertility. This could be due to the elevated nutrient content and lower pesticide contamination associated with organic foods.

The study was conceived by a high school student, Ria Chhabra, who sought to conduct the experiment after having a discussion with her parents about whether or not it's worth it to buy organic foods.

"It's rare for a high school student to have such a prominent position in the lab," Bauer said. "But Ria has tremendous energy and curiosity, and that convinced me to give this research project a try."

Findings of the study are published in the journal PLOS One.

Source: Southern Methodist University

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