Organic Foods and Pregnancy


Find out the reasons that you should eat organic food if you are pregnant.

Organic foods are one of the hottest trends in nutrition these days. What are benefits of eating organic food during pregnancy and it is worth the extra money?

Even the local grocery stores have jumped on the organic bandwagon these days. Too often, however, organic foods carry a price tag significantly higher than conventional foods. The question everyone wants to know is, is organic food safer or better for you than conventional foods? Are there some organic foods that are worth paying the extra money for? Is it better for women to eat organic foods during pregnancy?

Organic versus Conventional Fruits and Vegetables

variety of vegetables on display

Unless the farms that produce fruit and vegetable crops use organic methods, the produce is sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. These sprays carry harmful residue that cannot be removed by simply washing them. Even minute quantities of these chemicals can alter the hormonal, nervous and immune systems of the people who consume them. Certain types of cancers are linked to some of these artificial chemicals such as breast, uterine, prostate cancer and leukemia.

One study in the Journal of Applied Nutrition has also proven that organically grown fruits and vegetables have a higher nutritive content that those that are grown with traditional farming methods. Organically grown apples, wheat, sweet corn, potatoes and pears were examined over a 2 year period and were 63% higher in calcium, 73% higher in iron, 118% higher in magnesium, 178% higher in molybdenum, 91% higher in phosphorus, 125% higher in potassium and 60% higher in zinc than conventionally grown produce. The organic produce was also 29% lower in mercury.

Later research has shown that organically-grown corn and strawberries have much larger quantities of antioxidants than the traditionally grown counterparts. It is quite possible that conventional farming methods, which use pesticides and herbicides, interfere with the nutritive value and the anti-cancer properties of the fruits and vegetables.

For more on how many servings of fruits and vegetables you need while you are pregnant, see pregnancy diet plan.

Meats, Poultry, Eggs, Fish

About 2/3 of the cattle used to provide our meat have been treated with artificial growth hormones. Although the FDA has deemed that these hormones are safe, we know that they make their way into the meat on our dinner tables and do not simply affect the size of the animal.

Though growth hormones, by law, cannot be given to poultry or pigs, these animals can be fed growth enhancers and additives to make them grow faster. Antibiotics are also routinely given to pigs, chickens, beef cattle, dairy cows and even fish. Even though they are used to prevent illnesses and control diseases in the animals, the over-use of these antibiotics has contributed to antibiotic-resistance in humans. Remember also that certain fishes carry higher mercury content so check the list of safe fishes in foods to avoid during pregnancy.

Meat, poultry, and eggs from organic farms are certified to be free from any chemical treatments including artificial growth hormones, steroids, growth enhancers and antibiotics.

The Demand for Organic Foods

variety of vegetables with price sign on table

Sales for organic foods have been growing at a rate of 21%. 14% of Americans say that they eat more organic food than they did one year ago. Nearly 2/3 of US consumers purchased at least some organic food in 2005. However 7 out of 10 consumers who do not eat organic food say the reason is cost. Organic foods can cost anywhere from 50-100% more than conventional foods. In fact 86% of Americans report that they would eat more organic food if the prices were lower.

While the demand for organic food continues to grow and availability increases, prices will continue to drop. Experts in the organic industry say that when all the benefits of health and nutrition are factored in, organic foods are in fact the better bargain over conventional foods.

When is Paying for Organic Food Worth the Cost?

Advocacy groups, such as the Environmental Working Group in Washington DC, have studied various food groups to determine when buying organic is worth the money. That is, some of the pesticides or additives levels have been found to be so high in these foods that it is always worth buying the organically-grown foods. Other foods, such as bananas, are not worth paying the organic price since the pesticide residue is removed when you peel it.

Here are foods that are worth the organic price tag:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Baby Food
  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Imported Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Red Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries

Organic Foods and Pregnancy

person touching stomach

Clearly there are tremendous benefits for an expectant mother to eat organic foods during pregnancy since she exposes herself and her baby to harmful chemicals with conventional foods. In fact, many experts agree that the biggest risk to the baby is from pesticides and herbicides in conventionally grown fruits and vegetables from the mother’s diet. These chemicals have been shown to cross the placenta.

Children and pregnant women are also most vulnerable to the affects of synthetic growth hormones since studies have shown they can alter hormone production, lead to reproductive and developmental problems and possibly lead to cancer. Hormones found in beef are linked to early onset of puberty in girls which may in turn lead to breast cancer as well as other cancers. Pregnant women and children may in fact, benefit the most from eating organic.

The good news is that the more organic food we all purchase, the more available these food items become and the more we can all save, not only in our wallets but also in health problems and ultimately medical bills!

Do you buy organic food? Tell us why or why not.

Find answers to all of your questions about eating healthy during pregnancy, including cravingsweight gainspecial diets and how eating healthy can affect the next generation and more.