Choose Health – Part 2, are fruit and vegetables safe?

In my post about choosing health, I went through some of the benefits of eating organic meat and stated that ‘no one can argue that increasing the amount of fresh, ideally organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables that you consume is one of the best ways to improve your health’. 

real food, real results

But what about non-organic fruits and vegetables?

Eating conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables is a much better option than not eating any at all; a diet made up of processed foods is one of the quickest routes to poor health you can take.  But the best option if you are looking at optimum health and the fat loss which that brings is to get most of your foods from organic and natural sources.

I’ll explain; organic foods are produced without the routine use of pesticides and other chemicals. It is harder, more labour intensive and takes longer to farm; therefore it is more expensive to buy.

However, organic farming produces foods that are healthier, more nutritious and more likely to contribute to your long term health than non-organic farming.

Some argue that the pesticide, fungicide and insecticide contamination on crops is nominal and is of no concern to our health, but these chemicals are designed to kill (the word cide  is derived from the Latin cida, meaning killer) living creatures, why is it assumed that they will not cause humans a problem.

Increasing numbers of health and medical experts are suggesting that even small doses of pesticide exposure can have a negative impact on health. Particularly when consumed over long periods of time, i.e., in our foods every day.

In fact, an Environmental Working Group study recently showed that if you consume the average daily non-organic fruit and vegetable intake, you would be consuming a cocktail of at least 15 different pesticides per DAY!  This study was based on US foods but we have similar conventional farming methods in the UK and if you shop in a supermarket much of your food will have travelled overseas to get here.

If your budget doesn’t allow you to go fully organic, the group has produced a list of foods which have the highest pesticide load, making it more important to source them organically. 

Here is the top 12, with the worst being at the top:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Lettuce
  • Grapes
  • Pears
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes

In contrast, the foods with the lowest residual chemical load and deemed safer to eat from non-organic sources were:

  • Broccoli
  • Aubergine
  • Cabbage
  • Banana
  • Kiwi
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet corn (frozen)
  • Avocado
  • Onion

Interestingly, I don’t think its coincidence that these are mainly foods that are known to have natural healing properties and are full of antioxidants.

Using the above information, you can make better choices when shopping to reduce your family’s total toxic load.  Something that is worth focusing on as total toxic load has been medically linked to a susceptibility to the following conditions:

• Cancer
• Fertility problems
• Brain tumors
• Childhood leukemia
• Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
• Birth defects
• Irritation to skin and eyes
• Hormone or endocrine system problems including weight gain
• Nervous system damage

And that’s not to mention conditions that haven’t yet been proven to link to pesticide ingestion, though new studies are coming in all the time.

So what can you do about this?

Well, simply washing or soaking your fruit and vegetables isn’t enough to remove the build-up of pesticides. These crops have been sprayed throughout every phase of their growth. Washing and peeling will remove some of the build up, but nowhere near enough. The pesticides seep into the ground where the plants take their food from, thus sucking up the chemicals into the fruit itself.

The only way to be 100% sure is to eat organically grown produce from the top list and include more of the foods that are rich in antioxidants and make up much of the bottom list.

Eating organic can be a little more expensive but if you want to improve your health and drop body fat, then investing in the quality of the food that you eat is worth doing.  As I mentioned previously, most of us think nothing of spending £50.00 on a night out, but find it difficult to justify when changing to better quality foods. 

It’s really about your priorities, is your health one of them? 

If so, have one less night out per month and upgrade your shopping basket.  If you want to make it cheaper, grow your own. I do.

This year, we had a regular supply of spinach, rocket, tomatoes, courgettes and herbs from the garden, as well as a few chillies and squashes. I’m extending the vegetable patch next spring to provide even more produce for my family.  It takes a little bit of planning but the rewards are really worth it. 

If you want to improve your health and would like a little guidance or a chat about the best way for you, complete the consultation form at www.achievecoventry.co.uk/consultation.html

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