I always recommend eating locally and organic produce whenever possible, but it is no secret that organics can get expensive. While fruits and vegetables are pivotal for general health and for a healthy pregnancy, they can also be main sources for pesticides in our diet. A new study came out looking at pesticides in our foods and how they may impact fertility. The results were fascinating...
This study was done at the Harvard School of Public Health to better understand factors that may impact success of Artificial Reproductive Therapies (ART). All women were undergoing ART for infertility treatment at the time of the study. Researchers looked at what women reported eating, and categorized fruits and vegetables into high and low pesticide-containing groups.
The results were striking. First of all, high pesticide intake was associated with lower probability of becoming pregnant or having a live birth. In fact, the higher the pesticide intake, the lower the likelihood became. High pesticide intake was shown to be linked to higher chances of pregnancy loss.
The women who had the highest intake of pesticides had 18% less likelihood of pregnancy and 26% less likelihood of having a live birth, as compared to the women with the lowest pesticide intake.
Image Source: 2nd Truth Photography
The researchers also looked at what would happen if the women replaced high pesticide fruits and vegetables with lower pesticide-containing options. They found that switching 1 serving daily of a high pesticide-containing fruit or vegetable with 1 serving of a fruit or vegetable with low amounts of pesticides is associated with 79% higher odds of becoming pregnant, and 88% higher odds of having a successful pregnancy with live birth. That is a huge difference that a simple choice can make!
So what does this all mean? Do we need to be choosing organic everything, all the time? First of all, this study just looked at pesticide residue in fruits or vegetables, so let’s start there. Not all fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of pesticides in their conventional (non-organic) form. In this study, they found that dried fruits, beans, onions, cabbage, corn, avocados, bananas, and citrus were among the fruits and vegetables with the lowest pesticide amounts. Some of the highest pesticide-containing choices were strawberries, peppers, spinach, grapes, apples, green beans, kale, and peaches.
Since organics can be so pricey, I recommend picking the produce that is most important to choose organic and sticking to conventional produce for those lower pesticide-containing choices. A quick and easy way to keep track is to use the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists.
Image Source: EWG
That being said, this is a personal topic that can impact everyone differently, which is where your dietitian comes in. I can help you identify when it is most important for you to choose organic based on your lifestyle, diet, habits, and goals. Why stress when you have someone who can translate nutrition information into real, actionable steps? When you schedule your appointment, we will work together to find the best action plan for you.
What do you think? Do you find this study as striking as I do? Does this new research change the way you think about pesticides and produce?