Eating fresh produce is the best way to obtain the nutrients that support optimum health, but the pesticides used on many crops remain a major health concern. By choosing organic foods, you can reap the health benefits of fruits and vegetables without exposing yourself and your family to potentially harmful chemicals. Pesticides present real health risks, particularly to children and those with health concerns. The toxicity most commonly associated with pesticides in animal studies include disruptions in the normal functioning of the nervous and endocrine systems, as well as increased risks of cancer.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently updated their Shopper's Guide,to present the newest "Dirty Dozen" list - produce you should buy only in organically grown form. According to EWG, common growing practices make the crops listed below the most likely to contain higher pesticide residues:
Apples' protective effects are likely due to their high concentration of anti-inflammatory flavonoids such as quercitin and catechin. However, this fruit is typically heavily sprayed with pesticides that can be found even in apple juice and applesauce. Buying organic apples will keep you and your family healthy.
Farmers typically use fungicide on strawberries, as this soft-bodied fruit is prone to fungi attack. Another reason to buy organic strawberries? Studies have shown that antioxidant levels in organically grown strawberries were about 19 percent higher than they were in conventionally grown strawberries.
Grapes are rich sources of antioxidants including resveratrol, which appears to powerfully block oxidation reactions that can damage cells. But conventionally grown grapes, and even raisins, are prone to increased levels of pesticides.
Celery is the worst offender on the list and has ranked near the top for several years. Avoid conventionally grown celery whenever possible.
Peaches, with their bright orange flesh, provide different kinds of antioxidants: carotenes such as lutein and zeaxanthin. They are also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and zinc. However, peaches often contain some of the highest concentrations of pesticides. Buy the organically grown versions of this fruit whenever you have the opportunity.
Spinach contains nearly twice the iron of other leafy greens, making it one of the most available plant-based sources of iron. It's an excellent source of folic acid, potassium and magnesium, as well as vitamin K, carotenes, and vitamin C. Keep in mind this leafy vegetable often has high levels of pesticide residue and tests conducted show that frozen and canned spinach can contain as much pesticide as fresh spinach.
Sweet Bell Peppers
This colorful vegetable contains a variety of nutrients and vitamins depending on the color and maturity of the pepper. Red peppers are usually the sweetest and contain the highest levels of antioxidants including lycopene and carotene. Likewise, the vitamin C content of red peppers is twice the amount of green peppers. Bell peppers are easy to grow at home which can drastically cut your risk of pesticide exposure compared to traditional peppers.
Nectarines are like peaches, but with a smooth skin instead of a fuzzy coating. And just like peaches, they offer a variety of antioxidants for your health, but unfortunately, this sweet fruit is among the most contaminated tree fruits. Whether imported or domestic, pesticide residue is usually present.
"Cool as a cucumber" isn't just a metaphor - the inner temperature of growing cukes can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the surrounding air. A member of the same botanical family as melons and squashes and a rich source of vitamin K, they are unfortunately often high in pesticide residue. Buy organic cucumbers whenever possible.
Although cherry tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that studies show may help with prostate health, they are also full of pesticides. Opt for organic cherry tomatoes, and other varieties of tomatoes when garnishing a sandwich.
Snap Peas (imported)
Snap peas are a good source of vitamin C and fiber, however, imported varieties often contain pesticide residue.
The fibrous skin of the potato and the layer directly beneath contain most of the nutrients. Potatoes contain vitamins and nutrients including vitamins B6 and C, niacin, potassium, iron, magnesium and pantothenic acid. Although potatoes grow underground, they may still have high levels of pesticides.
Plus these which may contain organophosphate insecticides, which EWG characterizes as "highly toxic" and of special concern:
Hot peppers contain large amounts of vitamin C and are a delicious accompaniment to any meal, however, they also contain large amounts of pesticide residue and only the organic varieties should be eaten.
A study at Tufts University found that blueberries have the highest antioxidant content of the 60 fruits and vegetables analyzed. The antioxidants in blueberries have the ability to reduce free radical damage to the body's cells but cultivated blueberries are often heavily sprayed with chemicals. Seek out organic, wild-grown versions, which are smaller and tastier.
Original Article from: Dr. Andrew Weil, MD
Published: July 23, 2015