Pesticides in Fruit Could Lower Sperm Count

A new study shows that the chemicals found on certain fruits and vegetables could slash your guy's sperm count in half, causing infertility in TTC couples.

Pesticides in Fruit Could Lower Sperm Count auremar/Shutterstock

Could infertility be linked to a certain aisle of the grocery store? Surprisingly, yes. According to a new study published in the journal Human Reproduction, if your guy's apple a day has been doused with pesticides, it could lower his sperm count.

Researchers studied 155 men between the ages of 18 and 55 over the course of five years. Each participant filled out a questionnaire that tracked his daily eating habits. Any fruits and vegetables consumed were categorized for pesticide residue based off of the United States Department of Agriculture's Pesticide Data Program. The guys who ate fruits and vegetables with the highest concentration of chemicals (see list below) had a 49 percent reduction in sperm count.

The news didn't come as a shocker for Brad Imler, Ph.D., president of the American Pregnancy Association. "More and more fertility health is tied to overall health," Imler says. "This means that for couples trying to conceive, the pursuit of overall health is a priority objective."

But before you empty out your produce drawer: "These findings should not discourage the consumption of fruit and vegetables in general," said Jorge Chavarro, assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, in a release. If the fruit or vegetable your baby daddy-to-be hankers for is known for higher pesticide levels, opt for organic instead.

Here's what you need to know before your next trip to the supermarket.

Pesticide-laden culprits: Buy these organic!

According to the study and the Environmental Working Group's 2015 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, these are the fruit and veggies that carry more pesticides, so either steer clear or buy organic.

  • apples
  • celery
  • cherry tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • grapes
  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • pears
  • peppers
  • potatoes
  • snap peas (imported)
  • spinach
  • strawberries

Sperm-friendly safe bets: Eat plenty of these!

Here are the fruits and vegetables with low concentrations of pesticides, so your guy (and you!) can safely nosh away on these, organic or not.

  • asparagus
  • avocados
  • beans
  • cabbage
  • cantaloupe
  • cauliflower
  • eggplant
  • grapefruits
  • kiwis
  • mangoes
  • onions
  • papayas
  • peas
  • pineapples
  • sweet corn
  • sweet peas (frozen)
  • sweet potatoes

If you and your guy haven't been zoned into the quality of your produce picks, don't worry. There are nutrients that can help counteract the effect of pesticides. "The nutrient zinc, found in oysters, wholegrain cereals and seafood, has a long history of being tied to improving semen quality," Imler says. "New research also shows that omega-3s, vitamins C and E, selenium and folic acid may also be associated with semen health." Your best bet? Have him combine these fertility boosters with plenty of organic fruit and vegetables and his little swimmers will be in the best shape they can be.