It seems logical that eating organic foods—which are grown without the use of pesticides—would result in lower levels of those chemicals in your body. But you may be surprised to find out just how much.
In a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers looked at the diets of almost 4,500 people living in six cities in the U.S., measuring their exposure levels to one of the most common pesticides, called organophosphates (OPs).
What they found was astonishing. According to the study, the people who “often or always” ate organic had about 65 percent lower levels of pesticide residues compared to those who ate the least amount of organic produce.
These findings have been backed up in other studies in recent years, including a 2012 study out of Stanford University, which found that people who eat an organic diet tend to have lower levels of pesticides in their system, especially children—so, parents, take note!
The Negative Health Effects of Pesticides
Although some within big lobbies have claimed that eating foods grown with pesticides are safe, research shows that exposure can have negative effects. Toxins in pesticides have been shown to cause things like delayed brain development and memory loss. The EPA also says that some pesticides have been linked to birth defects, cancer, nerve damage, and others may affect hormones.
Avoid the Dirty Dozen
Unfortunately, washing and peeling doesn’t remove all of the residues. Researchers at the University of Stuttgart found that organic produce had, on average, a 180 times lower pesticide content than conventional products.
Of course, one of the common hurdles to eating a completely organic diet is the cost. If you can’t go totally organic, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of fruits and vegetables that typically have the highest level of pesticide residues. It includes produce like: peaches, spinach, apples, celery, kale, and others. See the whole dirty dozen list here.
Organic Foods Are More Nutritious
As if you needed yet another reason to eat organic, research also shows that it’s actually higher in vitamins and minerals than conventional produce! According to a study published on July 15 in The British Journal of Nutrition, organic crops are between 20 and 40 percent higher in a number of antioxidants, which help protect the body’s cells from disease, aging, and other damage.