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Do Not Let Hidden Toxins from Food Into YOUR Body E-mail
Written by Jeff Behar, MS, MBA   

As farmers and large scale grocery chains look to maximize profit by increasing food productivity and minimizing spoilage due to parasites, and transport issues, a greater amount of pesticides are being applied to our food, both in the field and prior to transport. This deadly chemicals can adversely affect your health in many ways. What many consumers do not know is a good portion of these chemicals can not be removed by washing the foods, or sometimes even when removing the outer layer or skin of the food. Learn how to protect yourself with these simple suggestions.

Buy the least risky foods

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health, produces the Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce. It is based on the results of nearly 43,000 pesticide tests. Of the 43 different fruit and vegetable categories in the Guide to Pesticides, the following twelve foods had the lowest pesticide load when conventionally grown. Consequently, they are the safest conventionally grown crops to consume:
  • Broccoli
  • Eggplant
  • Cabbage
  • Banana
  • Kiwi
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet corn (frozen)
  • Avocado
  • Onion

Avoid tainted imported produce

As a minimum, consider especially avoiding tomatoes, strawberries, and spinach from Mexico), peaches, pears, and grapes from Chile, fruits and vegetables especially apples from New Zealand.

Always wash (and peel, where possible) fruits and vegetables

Soaking is fine to loosen dirt and debris, but studies have shown that running water is the most effective means of physically removing pesticide residues as well as dirt and bacteria. Note: washing with commercial produce washes were shown in one study to be only slightly more effective than plain running water in removing residues and may not be worth the extra money

Peel produce that is likely to have high levels of pesticide residue

The pesticide DDT, banned in the U.S. in 1973, has been found in the skins of root vegetables grown more than 20 years later.

Throw out the outer leaves of leafy vegetables

The outer leaves will contain the higher levels of the contaminant if present.

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables

If your produce isn’t organically grown, eating a mix of foods from a variety of sources can minimize your risk of ingesting too much of any one pesticide.

Best bet, buy organic

Washing and peeling may help remove residues of certain pesticides, but it is important to note that some pesticides are systemic, which means that they are found within the fruit or vegetable. This means that washing and peeling will not remove all of that particular pesticide.

A recent study at the University of Washington found that children who ate mostly organically grown fruits and vegetables had only one-sixth the amount of pesticide by-products in their urine as compared to children who ate conventionally grown foods.

If cost is an issue, as a minimum, consider buying organic varieties of just the foods that have been shown to be more likely to have high levels of chemical residues, such as peaches, apples, pears, winter squash, green beans, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, spinach, and potatoes. 

Bottom Line

Despite the potential health risks of pesticide residues, current science indicates the health advantages of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables are greater. So load up on fruits and vegetables to protect your health.  At the same time, minimize your exposure to unwanted contaminants by choosing your foods wisely and taking some simple steps to prepare them.

For more information on healthy eating or for questions about this article you can contact the author at
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