Organic fruit and vegetables may be better for the heart and general health than eating conventionally grown crops, new research has found.

A 10-year study comparing organic tomatoes with standard produce found that they had almost double the quantity of antioxidants called flavonoids, which help to prevent high blood pressure and thus reduce the likelihood of heart disease and strokes, according to the London-based Times Online.

Alyson Mitchell, a food chemist, who led the research at the University of California, believes that flavonoids can also help to stave off some forms of cancer and dementia.

She found that levels of quercetin and kaempferol, both flavonoids, were on average 79 and 97 percent higher, respectively, in organic tomatoes. Her findings are due to be published in full in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Mitchell said that previously it had been hard to make comparisons between organic and conventionally grown produce because of difficulties in comparing soil quality, irrigation practices and the handling of harvested produce. But, for this study, researchers used data from a long-term project in which standardized farming techniques were used to reveal trends in crop productivity.

The team believes that the different levels of flavonoids in tomatoes are due to the absence of fertilizers in organic farming.

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