Looking for a New Year’s Resolution this holiday season–one that’s simple to keep and will make a huge difference in your health? Why not try eating more organic fruits and veggies?
When you sit down to what you think is a healthful snack of fruits and vegetables, you’re probably getting more than you bargained for–by way of a huge dose of pesticides. In fact, according to a report from the Environmental Working Group (EWA), you can be exposed to up to 20 different pesticides each day by eating the most contaminated fruits and vegetables (more on these below).
The Dangers of Pesticides
Eating chemicals designed to kill bugs, fungi, weeds, and rodents probably doesn’t sound like much of a treat. It’s also bad for your health and can be especially dangerous for young children. Pesticides can stunt growth, cause changes in hormone function, and damage the nervous system.
They are also endocrine disruptors, making them damaging for children and adults alike. Endocrine disruptors change the functions of the endocrine system, making it work improperly and causing the hormone imbalances that lead to estrogen-dominance, fibroids, hot flashes, anxiety, low libido, and a long list of other symptoms. Some pesticides have estrogenic properties (meaning they are xeno-estrogens, “foreign estrogens” that mimic the estrogen in your body, causing abnormally high estrogen levels). Others have anti-androgenic properties (leading to lowered testosterone levels).
Pesticides can contribute to water retention in your body and raise your cortisol levels, both of which contribute to weight gain. Because they contaminate binding sites in the cell, xeno-estrogens can interfere with thyroid hormone usage. This leads to a sluggish thyroid, slower metabolism, and difficulty losing weight.
Making Healthy Choices
So which fruits and vegetables are likely to be full of pesticides, and which are less contaminated? Here’s the list from the EWA:
12 Most Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables
- Bell Peppers
- Imported Grapes
- Red Raspberries
12 Least Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables
The USDA measures the levels of pesticides in fruits and veggies after they’ve been washed (or peeled in the case of fruits like bananas.) This means that unfortunately, simply washing your fruits and veggies with water is not enough to eliminate all pesticides. However, there are things you can do to lower your exposure:
1. Buy organic (this is especially important if you eat the most contaminated fruits and veggies). Organic farmers do not use chemical pesticides.
2. Do wash fruits and veggies. Although washing won’t remove all pesticides, it can reduce your exposure. In addition, there are some veggie washes on the market that can remove pesticides from produce. On its Web site, Environne claims that independent studies have found its Fruit and Vegetable wash effective in removing 97 percent of all pesticides. If you want to use one of these products, be sure to look for one that is nontoxic and includes only natural ingredients.
3. Eat a varied diet.
The important thing is to eat a healthful, wholesome, well-rounded diet. By buying organic, you can reduce your exposure to pesticides and get all the wonderful benefits fruits and vegetables offer. Even local grocery stores like Randall’s and HEB have organic choices these days, so you don’t have to take a special trip to Whole Foods, Central Market, or Sun Harvest. Local Texas growers like Boggy Creek Farms offer organic, field-fresh produce year round, and the seasonal farmer’s market also has tasty organic local choices.
Environmental Working Group: “Report Card: Pesticides in Produce”
Environmental Working Group: “Why Reducing Pesticide Exposure Is Smart”
http://www.vegiwash.com. Environne Fruit and Vegetable Wash
* The information in this article cannot be substituted for medical advice about your unique body. Call for an appointment to discuss questions or concerns.