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The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

Paula is a qualified nutritionist and a personal trainer and she shows her love and passion for health and fitness through her writing.

fruit and vegetables

fruit and vegetables

Healthy eating is becoming complicated, with so many diets out there presenting different restrictions, we are starting to forget about the quality of our food.

Therefore, I decided to write this post to help you make healthier choices no matter what diet you are on!

Even healthy eating can become unhealthy. So, in this post I will focus on what healthy eating looks like with emphasis on the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen.

The Dirty Dozen are the non-organic fruits and vegetables that are highest in pesticide residues and the Clean Fifteen are the non-organic items.

The dirty dozen facts

The dirty dozen are fruit and vegetables that have been tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce.

More than 98 percent of samples of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide.

A single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides.

Spinach samples had, on average, 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.



The dirty dozen fruits and vegetables

Below is a list of fruit and vegetables that are considered to be part of the Dirty Dozen category due to their high pesticides level.


The clean fifteen facts

The clean fifteen are fruits and vegetables that were analysed and it was discovered that these contain fewer pesticides, and tests found low total concentrations of pesticide residues.

One of the great fifteen examples include an avocado. Avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest. Less than 1 percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides.

More than 80 percent of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbages had no pesticide residues.

Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen vegetables. Only 5 percent of Clean Fifteen vegetable samples had two or more pesticides.

pineapples and kiwis

pineapples and kiwis

The Clean Fifteen Fruit and Vegetables

This is a list of the Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetables that contain fewer pesticides.


Benefits of avoiding pesticides

Eating fruits and vegetables that are low in pesticides has tremendous effects- you could call this healthy eating without dieting or calorie counting.

One of the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables that contain fewer pesticides is a stronger immune system - A study has shown the clean fifteen to contain approximately 17% more antioxidants which may strengthen your immune system.

However, eating fruit and vegetables outweigh the need to avoid pesticides because the amount of pesticides that is used during farming and production is within safe limits for consumption.

A person would need to eat excessive amounts of the dirty dozen for these pesticides to become harmful. However, it is always better for the gut to eat 'cleaner' food. Take a look at my other post on the effects of gut health on our body.


The dirty dozen and the clean fifteen are fruit and vegetables that either contain excessive amounts of pesticides or very few. It is always better for your overall health and wellbeing to eat less pesticides and chemicals but eating these fruits and vegetables is still safe as the amount of pesticides found still remains safe unless you consume them in excessive amounts.

I hope you've enjoyed today's post! I hope it gave you a better understanding of what foods to choose and avoid if you are worried about the chemicals and pesticides.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Paula K Sawicka


Paula K Sawicka (author) from Edinburgh on January 20, 2021:

I'm so glad you've enjoyed the article :)

E Randall from United States on January 15, 2021:

This is extremely informative. I have always heard of celery being one of the most dirty vegetables in regards to amount of pesticides used. I eat a lot of spinach so I am going to take more care in washing it when preparing salads. I did not realize many of them had such a high pesticide level. Thank you for posting this.

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