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Pesticides are known to be toxic to the nervous system. They can disrupt hormones and potentially cause developmental brain problems in children. Pregnant women, especially, are advised to avoid pesticides since there is an abundance of research I inking pesticide exposure during pregnancy to possible fetal abnormalities. There is also some research hinting that pesticides might playa role in autism or ADHD.

We would caution parents that these risks are relatively low in real terms, so it’s not necessary to panic. For example, a 50% increase in a birth defect that occurs once every 1,000 pregnancies doesn’t mean that half of women exposed to high amounts of pesticides will give birth to a baby with that defect; it means the risk increases to I Y, per 1,000 women with the highest pesticide levels. What’s more,

avoiding fresh produce could open your child up to many more health problems that are more severe than the threat posed by pesticide exposure. So without jumping into the realm of fanaticism, there are a few things parents-and pregnant women especially-can do to lower the amount of pesticides they or their family are exposed to.

Pesticide levels in fruits and vegetables

Not all produce is treated with pesticides equally The type of produce and the way it is grown will influence how many pesticides are used and how much they are retained by the produce. A June 2011 report by the Environmental Working Group exam ined pesticide levels in different types of produce to determine the best and worst offenders:

Produce with the lowest pesticide levels

(Ranked from the most pesticide-free to slightly less pesticide-free)

  • Onions
  • Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet peas
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushrooms

Produce with the highest pesticide levels (Ranked from most toxic to less toxic)

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Sweet bell peppers 9. Potatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Lettuce
  • Kale/CoIIard Greens

How to avoid pesticide exposure from produce:

I. It is recommended that you buy organic for those fruits and vegetables that have the highest levels of pesticides.

2. Contrary to popular belief, washing produce is unlikely to help much, since pesticides are generally taken up by the entire plant and reside on more than just the skin It won’t hurt if you want to do this, but it probably won’t help a whole lot, either.

3. Simply by adjusting your eating habits to consume 5 daily servings of fruit and vegetables from the grouping lowest in pesticides, most people can lower the vol ume of pesticides they consume daily by 92%! By the same token, eating the same amount from the “dirty dozen” list would expose you to an average of 14 different pesticides daily (compared to no more than 2 from the clean list).

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