If you’ve been wondering if you should start feeding your growing athlete an organic diet, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. There are certain reasons that an organic diet may be healthier, but eating more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins in general is perhaps even more important.
“There are a number of reasons that an organic diet may be healthier, including more nutrient availability, a greater number of antioxidant phytochemicals, and lower pesticide amounts,” explains TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics. “However, eating an overall balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is more important than eating an unbalanced, organic diet.”
Here’s what you need to know to shop organic in a thoughtful way.
Look at the Dirty Dozen
When it comes to produce, if the fruit or vegetable has a thick skin, then the pesticides are less likely to permeate that skin. Bananas and oranges, for example, are generally fine to buy non-organic. But it’s better to buy organic strawberries or other berries that have a very thin skin. Every year, the Environmental Working Group releases the Dirty Dozen, the list of the best foods to buy organic. In 2020, for instance, strawberries, spinach, and kale topped the list of foods that contain the most pesticides. (The Environmental Working Group also has the Clean 15, a list of the cleanest options to buy if you can’t find organic options or are on a tight budget—this year’s chart-toppers were avocados, sweet corn, and pineapple.)