Is Buying Organic Produce Worth It?

Melina Jampolis, M.D., a specialist in nutrition, weight loss, and disease prevention, is a coauthor of The Calendar Diet. She gives her advice on buying organic produce.

Q. Is organic produce worth the extra expense? I've heard that regular fruits and vegetables are just as good for you.

A. That depends on how you define "good for you." True, a large research review in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that organic produce is no richer in major nutrients (such as vitamin C) than conventionally grown crops.

But the study also found that conventional fruits and vegetables had far higher amounts of synthetic pesticides. While the levels were within federal safety limits, researchers are still exploring the potential long-term health effects of exposure to such chemicals—particularly among children and pregnant women.

My advice: If you're an expectant mom or have young kids in your family, choose organic if you can when shopping for sweet or tender produce that lacks a protective skin or peel (for example: berries, lettuce, grapes, and apples), which tends to be treated most heavily with pesticides. If organic isn't available or is too expensive, just focus on enjoying a brightly colored variety of fresh fruits and vegetables—always a great move for health.

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