The Best and Worst Produce Choices
With all of this talk about the importance of eating your vegetables, I hope you’ve branched out and tried something new. Even an addition of one extra serving per day is progress towards health!
I do realize that it can get confusing when you go to the grocery store. There has been so much talk about organic vs. non-organic. You want to be healthy and fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods, but are pesticides out-weighing the benefits?
There are certain fruits and veggies, tested by the USDA, which retained pesticides despite being washed and peeled.
No need to fear! Thanks to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), you can confidently navigate the produce section without compromising your health….or your wallet 😉
USDA’s EWG has compiled a list of the conventionally grown Fruits and Veggies with the highest pesticide residues. These are the ones that you DO want to purchase organic, if possible.
Each of these foods tested positive a number of different pesticide residues and showed higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce items.
Here are some key findings from The EWG website:
- 99 percent of apple samples, 98 percent of peaches, and 97 percent of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
- The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
- A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
- Single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece.
Here’s the list in order of highest pesticide count to the least:
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Snap Peas (Imported)
In addition to providing you with information about which produce you want to buy organic, they’ve also compiled a list of 15 different fruits and veggies with the lowest amounts of pesticide residue. This means that you can safely purchase the non-organic version!
The Clean Fifteen™
Here are key findings:
- Avocados were the cleanest: only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.
- Some 89 percent of pineapples, 82 percent of kiwi, 80 percent of papayas, 88 percent of mango and 61 percent of cantaloupe had no residues.
- No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen™ tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.
- Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen™ vegetables. Only 5.5 percent of Clean Fifteen samples had two or more pesticides.
Here’s the list (starting with the cleanest choice):
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas(frozen)
- Sweet Potato
EWG went one step further and devised a “Dirty Dozen Plus” List. This includes:
- Collard Greens
- Hot Peppers
While these foods don’t meet the full criteria to be included in the Dirty Dozen, they were frequently found to be contaminated with pesticides that are toxic to the human nervous system. If these are some of your favorite veggies and you eat them on a regular basis, EWG recommends buying organic.
Do you feel more empowered and confident that you can make healthy decisions at the grocery store? I sure hope so.
In honor of Avocadoes, the cleanest produce option, I’ve provided some MORE reasons why you should eat them AND a recipe to enjoy.
1.Avocados are very nutritious and contain a wide variety of nutrients, including 20 different vitamins and minerals.
Although they aren’t sweet, avocados are actually fruit! Remember my talk about phytonutrients? Well, they have phytonutrient benefits: cholesterol-lowering plant sterols — glutathione, which work as an antioxidant potentially for cancer protection, and lutein promoting healthy vision.
2. They Contain More Potassium Than Bananas.
Potassium is an important mineral that most people don’t get enough of. Avocados are very high in potassium, which should support healthy blood pressure levels.
3. Avocado is Loaded With Heart-Healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids.
Both Avocados and avocado oil are high in the “heart healthy” monounsaturated oleic acid, a fatty acid that is believed to be one of the main reasons for the health benefits of olive oil.
4. Avocados Are Loaded With Fiber.
Fiber can have various important benefits for weight loss and metabolic health.
5. Eating Avocados Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels.
Clinical trials studied the effects of avocado on cholesterol levels. Subjects were divided into two groups: one group was instructed to eat avocados, while the other was not.
Blood markers were studied and the results revealed that Avocado consumption had the ability to:
- Reduce total cholesterol levels significantly.
- Reduce blood triglycerides by up to 20%.
- Lower LDL cholesterol by up to 22%.
- Increase HDL (the “good”) cholesterol by up to 11%.
Here’s an easy way to enjoy them! Thanks to Two Peas & Their Pod, you can try a new twist on the tried and true egg salad.
Avocado Egg Salad
Yield: Serves 3-4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Avocados take this egg salad to a whole new level! We love this healthier version of the traditional egg salad!
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 hard boiled egg whites, chopped
2 small avocados, pitted and peeled
1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a medium bowl, combine the hard boiled eggs and egg whites, avocado, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, green onion, and mustard. Mash with a fork. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serving suggestions: Spread between two slices of bread for an Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich. Eat with crackers, cut up veggies, on toast, or in a wrap. This salad is best eaten the day it’s made.
I think you’ve got enough information to digest today. Give your brain some fuel and make the egg salad!