A small study published in Environmental Health Perspectives is making a strong case for eating organic fruits and veggies. The study, which involved 40 California children (with 20 living in Oakland and 20 living in Salinas, an agricultural community about 100 miles away), measured the pesticides found in the children’s urine over a period of 16 days. To test the effect of introducing organic fruits and veggies into their diets, the children, ages three to six, ate conventional produce for the first four days, followed by a week of organic produce, and then finally an additional five days of conventional. Can you guess what the researchers found?

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The urine of 72% of the children contained pesticides, several of which are associated with home pesticide use and were not affected by the dietary change. Levels of two of the most commonly detected pesticides, however, decreased by nearly 50% after a few days of the children eating organic foods. Another commonly detected pesticide, an herbicide, was linked to a 25% drop in levels. Pesticide levels were higher in the children living in Salinas overall, which makes sense given their proximity to farms (many of which still are heavy-handed with pesticide use).

RELATED | Children Exposed to Indoor Pesticides are 47% More Likely to be Diagnosed with Childhood Leukemia

If you can’t go all-organic, here’s that handy list of the “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies that you should be avoiding unless organic as well as the “clean fifteen” that are least contaminated with pesticides.

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