Tips for Washing Fruits and Vegetables to Reduce Pesticide Exposure

Posted by | November 01, 2019 | LENS, Nutrition, Pregnancy Medicine | No Comments

For pregnant women, in their first trimester, particularly in the first eight weeks of pregnancy, considerable effort should be taken to avoid and/or limit exposure to pesticides.  During this early stage of pregnancy, a baby’s major organs are developing and thus are susceptible to chemicals and exposures that can lead to permanent defects. Specifically, pesticide exposure has been linked to birth defects and low birth weight.

Fruits and vegetables are common sources of pesticide exposure given the widespread use of chemicals to kill insects and preserve produce.  Tips for reducing pesticide exposure include shopping at farmer’s markets to purchase certified organic fruits and vegetables. As well, care should be taken to avoid household exposure to pesticides commonly found in insect repellants, pet litter, and home gardens.

According to the Huffington Post, the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research and advocacy organization, designated 12 fruits and vegetables as having the most pesticides. These include: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, imported grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, domestic blueberries, lettuce, and kale/collard greens.  These vegetables should be carefully cleaned by thorough washing and peeling and consumed in moderation, varying the amounts of each one, to avoid overexposure to pesticides on the outside and inside of the produce. As an additional precaution, it is recommended that the majority of fruits and vegetables should be consumed from a list of 15 safer choices, including: onions, avocado, sweet corn, pineapples, mangoes, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potato and honeydew melon. Even still, it is best to consume fruits and vegetables with peels that can be completely removed, such as bananas, oranges and melons.

Despite the risks of pesticide exposure, fruits and vegetables should be regularly consumed as an essential part of a healthy diet during pregnancy.

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Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”