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Eat Clean & Lose Weight

The Produce Section’s Dirty Dozen: Avoid these commonly contaminated foods for a pesticide-free diet

Eat Clean, Lose WeightDuring your Optifast weight loss program you won’t have to think too much about the food choices you make. Your meals are pre-planned for you by a team of nutrition experts who have compiled a nutritionally sound meal into a low calorie meal substitute. Following your Optifast weight program, you can still take advantage of these meal substitutes, but you’ll also want to start incorporating more traditional foods into your diet.

By making your food choices as nutritionally-sound and natural as possible, you can avoid all kinds of life-threatening problems, from dangerous diseases to conditions like obesity and high blood pressure, allowing yourself to live longer and feel better.

Once strictly available in health food stores, organic foods have become more prevalent as time has gone on. Though people buy organic food for many different reasons, like the belief that they have a higher nutritional value, one of the primary concerns that people have about conventionally-grown produce is its pesticide content.

Buying Pesticide-Free Produce

Unfortunately, we don’t yet fully understand how pesticides affect the human body, but there is growing evidence linking them to various nerve conditions in the farmers who use them and ADHD in children who eat them. Many pesticides were approved years ago, but have since been linked to cancer and other diseases—in fact, the EPA now considers 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides and 30 percent of insecticides as potentially carcinogenic.

Organic farmers use methods that prevent these harmful chemicals from reaching the food we eat, but those practices come at a higher cost for consumers. This makes it difficult for many of us to fill our kitchens with entirely organic foods, making careful selection of organic foods necessary to reduce our exposure to these harmful chemicals.

Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list of produce items that it calls the “Dirty Dozen,” foods that have the highest amount of pesticide residue. Coupled with another list that it calls the “Clean 15,” this makes it much easier to decide which foods to buy organic and which to buy conventional.

The Dirty Dozen

Here are the fruits and veggies that the EWG have identified as having the highest pesticide content, ranked by order of potential contamination:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines (Imported)
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries (domestic)
  12. Potatoes

The EWG has also added a “Plus” category to highlight two more potentially dangerous foods: kale and green beans. These foods don’t quite meet the criteria of the Dirty Dozen, but they still have a high potential for pesticide residue (and Dirty Fourteen doesn’t quite have the same ring to it).

The Clean Fifteen

These fifteen fruits and veggies have been identified as having the lowest pesticide content by the EWG:

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  12. Sweet potatoes
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms

By using these guidelines, you can save some money by only buying organic when it’s most necessary and save your health by reducing the amount of pesticides you consume. Though organic foods are unquestionably better for the environment and many people say they taste better, not all of us have the money to buy everything we need in its organic form. With some selective shopping and careful selection, you can have the best of both worlds.