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Organic Apples Have More Diverse Microbiome Than Chemically Grown Ones

New study suggests organic apples may be better for gut health

Organic apples contain a more diverse, balanced, and healthy bacterial community than chemically grown ones, according to a new study (see abstract below) of apple microbiomes (bacterial populations). This could make them healthier as well as better for the environment, though these aspects were not tested in the study.

"The bacteria, fungi and viruses in our food transiently colonize our gut," said lead author Prof Gabriele Berg, of Graz University of Technology, Austria. "Cooking kills most of these, so raw fruit and veg are particularly important sources of gut microbes."

Prof Berg's team analyzed the microbiome of different tissues (stem, peel, fruit pulp, seeds, and calyx) of the organically grown and chemically grown apples. They compared the bacteria in store-bought chemically grown apples with fresh organic ones. 

The researchers found that organic and chemically grown apples hosted similar numbers of bacteria – around 100 m. The majority were located in the seeds, with most of the remainder in the flesh. However, the organic apples harboured a more diverse, more even and distinct bacterial community, compared with the chemically grown ones. 

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