Does organic food improve fertility and increase your chances of getting pregnant? Is organic food necessarily for a healthy pregnancy? Here’s what the research shows about organic food and fertility, plus tips for saving money on organic fruits and veggies.
Research shows that organic fruit, vegetables, and meat haven’t yet been proven to directly improve fertility levels by increasing sperm count and healthy ovulation. But, organic foods certainly can’t harm fertility levels, so they might be worth a try if you’re hoping to conceive a baby!
The food you eat – organic or not – does affect your health, which in turn affects your fertility levels. If you’re trying to get pregnant, read Eating for Pregnancy: The Essential Nutrition Guide and Cookbook for Today’s Mothers-to-Be.
And, read on for a summary of the health benefits of organic food versus traditionally grown fruit and vegetables for fertility and getting pregnant…
Organic Food for Fertility and Getting Pregnant
Dr Alyson Mitchell a professor and food chemist at the University of California in Davis, has stated that the public believes that organically grown foods are healthier, but there is little scientific evidence to support this position. However, she also says, “[In one study] I found that the higher level of antioxidants [in organic food] is enough to have a significant impact on health and nutrition, and it’s definitely changed the way I think about my food.”
How Antioxidants May Affect Fertility Levels
There’s little doubt that the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables promote good health – and a fertility diet can increase pregnancy odds. The Mayo Clinic just reported that antioxidant-rich foods prevent diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and degenerative diseases. Their list of the healthiest foods included berries, apples, avocados, pears, plums, spinach, red cabbage, broccoli, and sweet potatoes as containing the highest amounts of antioxidants.
However, the Mayo Clinic didn’t specify whether the produce is better organically grown. Nor did they discuss how organic foods affect fertility levels.
Are Organic Fruits and Vegetables Healthier?
Multiple opinions on the organic verses traditional food debate flourish: some say organic food that’s been trucked across the country – or flown in from Europe – does so much damage to the environment it negates the health effects of the food. They say local food, organic or not, is best for both environmental and personal health. Others debate the definition of “local”: is it within 50 kilometres? 200? 10?
Bugs and weeds are part of the reason organic food may have more health-building properties than conventionally grown fruit and vegetables. Organic produce develops its own natural antioxidants in response to aphids and competing plants. Conventional produce is sprayed with herbicides and pesticides so the natural tendency of the plant to produce its own defense mechanisms – antioxidants – isn’t necessary. These antioxidants not only strengthen the plant, they also help people avoid cancer, allergies, and autoimmune disorders.
It stands to reason that organic food can help fertility and getting pregnant, doesn’t it?
The Health Benefits of Conventional Fruits and Vegetables
However, not everyone agrees that organic food is better for general health, much less for fertility or getting pregnant.
“Although organic foods generally are grown with lower levels of pesticides, no scientific evidence shows that these foods are safer or healthier than conventionally grown foods,” states the public relations team of the American Dietetic Association. Further, if conventionally grown fruits and veggies are frozen, canned, dried or cooked, most of the pesticide residue is decreased.
Nutritionists and food researchers do agree that eating a wide variety of foods is important to health and wellness. If you’re trying to get pregnant, make sure you avoid the foods that decrease fertility levels.
What is Organic Food, Anyway?
Not all organic foods are created equal. To be certified organic, farms must not use pesticides, antibiotics or genetically modified ingredients. They need to stress soil building, and adhere to basic regulations about animal welfare. The “Canada Organic” label with the little maple leaf is a federal stamp of approval ensures your food is actually organic (this standard is new).
Organic produce is mainstreamed, which means you can buy organic fruits and veggies at most food stores, from Safeway to Superstore. This is convenient and cheaper but disturbing to some folks. Food giants like Kellogg’s and Kraft are slowly creeping into the natural foods market and changing the original vision of healthy, environmentally food that favours small farms to corporation-run acres of farmland.
“If you’re buying ‘green’, you should consider the distance the food travels. If it’s traveling further, then some of the benefits of organic crops are cancelled out by extra environmental costs,” says University of Alberta researcher Vicki Burtt.
Saving Money on Organic Food for Fertility and Getting Pregnant
If you believe organic fruit and veggies are healthier — and could help you get pregnant — but find them expensive, remember that not all your produce needs to be organic. The Environmental Working Group discovered that the “consistently clean” (pesticide free) fruits and veggies are onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli and papaya. In the other basket are the “dirty dozen”: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce, and potatoes. These fruits and veggies are more likely to contain pesticide residues.
For many, the ideal solution is local, organic food – such as fruits and veggies grown in your own garden. Another excellent option for couples trying to get pregnant is organic buying clubs, which are less expensive than many grocery stores and often support local farmers. Then you’re covering all your bases: eating organic, reducing food miles, and supporting the local economy. You can’t get much healthier than that!
14 Money-Saving Tips for Organic Foods
- Choose minimally-processed foods.
- Buy locally and in-season.
- Use organic meat as a side dish, not the main attraction.
- Buy in bulk, and share with a neighbor or friend.
- Cook as much as you can from scratch.
- Participate in a food cooperative or buying club.
- Buy items on sale.
- Clip and use coupons.
- Shop around: prices vary widely.
- Shop online.
- Grow your own fruits and veggies.
- Buy less meat and processed foods.
- Research distributors and wholesalers.
- Buy organic fruits and veggies from the “dirty dozen” list, and enjoy the “consistently clean” conventional produce.
For more organic and natural living tips, read How to Detox Your Home and Increase Your Pregnancy Chances.
If you have any questions or thoughts on the health benefits of organic fruit, vegetables, and other foods – especially in relation to getting pregnant – please comment below…