Expert Q&A

Organic Food: Important for Cancer Patients?

I’m concerned about the chemicals in my foods. Now that I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, I am wondering if I should I eat only organic foods. Are they healthier for me?

Organic and non-organic foods are equal in nutrient content. What makes them different is that organic foods are grown without synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides, whereas non-organic foods may contain small amounts of residues.

According to the American Cancer Society, there is no evidence that these residues increase the risk of cancer. In fact, overwhelming scientific evidence supports an anti-cancer diet that includes non-organic fruits and vegetables. Despite this, many people feel safer avoiding pesticides and chemical residues in their foods. Yet many people are deterred from an all-organic diet due to their higher price.

According to the Environmental Working Group, some fruits and vegetables tend to have a higher concentration of chemical residues because of the way they are grown. If you are concerned about pesticide and chemical residues in your diet, you may wish to choose organic varieties for these particular foods. A recent study revealed which foods have the highest concentrations. Here is a list (foods with the highest levels of chemicals are at the top):

  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Imported grapes
  10. Spinach
  11. Potatoes.

Other foods resist absorption of chemicals. In this case, it makes sense to save your money and purchase their non-organic varieties. Dubbed The Cleanest 12, these foods have little-to-no pesticide residues:

  1. Onions
  2. Avocados
  3. Frozen sweet corn
  4. Pineapples
  5. Mangos
  6. Asparagus
  7. Frozen sweet peas
  8. Kiwis
  9. Bananas
  10. Cabbage
  11. Broccoli
  12. Papayas.
Erin Dummert RD, CD
Contributing Expert

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