The Dirty Dozen

August 23, 2023

The notion of eating organic is something that we all come across. We understand that it’s better for us, and quite possibly, healthier. But do we really understand what it means to eat organic and the benefits to our brain health of doing so? 

To eat organic simply means that the food produced is the product of a farming system where man-made pesticides and fertilisers have been used. These keep the foods in better condition, encouraging growth and preventing ruin from insects and pests. The downside is that these materials often contain synthetic chemicals and genetically modified components which can harm our general wellbeing, hormonal system and brain health. Research from Harvard University shows that consuming fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residues, may lessen the benefit of consuming them to start with. 

Studies have shown that organic foods not only have fewer pesticides and lower levels of nitrates compared to non-organic foods, but that they have an increased number of antioxidants and omega-3s, both of which are associated with a reduced risk of disease and better brain health. It’s important to know however, that organic foods are not necessarily 100% chemical free. What is notable, is that the pesticide residues will be considerably lower than those with synthetic chemicals. Organic produce contains higher concentrations of minerals – iron, calcium, phosphorus – each of which play an important role in our brain function and brain health.

While not everything has to be eaten organic, here are the ‘dirty dozen’ food items that were found to have the most pesticide residues. 

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Peaches
  5. Pears
  6. Necareines
  7. Apples
  8. Grapes
  9. Bell and hot peppers
  10. Cherries
  11. Blueberries
  12. Green beans