20 Fruits and Vegetables to Buy Organic
By now, you've heard that organically produced foods are better for both the planet and your health. Studies have shown them to be higher in nutrients than non-organic foods, and to contain far fewer contaminants that can cause serious illnesses.
However, if you're like most people, you simply don't have the budget to buy only organic produce all of the time. While washing and peeling produce can remove some of the pesticide residue, it can only go so far. Most plants absorb the synthetic chemicals and store them in their cells.
Here is a list of the top twenty fruits and vegetables that you really should try to buy organic, as they are the ones that farmers apply the highest amounts of pesticides to, and which retain most of these unhealthy chemicals.
For more information on this topic, check out this article I wrote about produce that you don't need to buy organic.
1. Apples. They conjure up fuzzy feelings associated with fall and apple pie. Apples contain high amounts of important nutrients like vitamin C and iron. They can also help your body regulate blood sugar, lower bad cholesterol, strengthen the bones and protect brain cells from free radical damage. Most of the nutrients in apples are concentrated in the skin. Unfortunately, this popular fruit is highly contaminated with pesticides, including some that the FDA warns against overexposure to, like DDT and permethrin.
2. Apricots. Of any type of food, apricots contain the highest concentrations of carotenoids that prevent heart disease, protect against cancer, protect the eyes, and lower bad cholesterol. And let's not forget the all-important health benefits of the fiber they provide. Many pesticides are used on these healthy little things.
3. Bell Peppers. Also high in carotenoids. Red peppers have twice the amount of vitamin C as green peppers, and nine times the level of the important antioxidant carotene. All bell peppers contain a variety of B vitamins that are associated with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Multiple pesticides are used on bell peppers.
4. Blueberries. A delicious comfort food, especially when baked into pies and pancakes. Blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of all fruit. Nicholas Perricone, M.D., author of The Wrinkle Cure, recommends eating a handful of fresh blueberries every morning to keep the skin looking youthful. They can help you combat a cold with trace minerals like zinc, selenium, and copper, and they have even been shown to improve memory. Unless your blueberries were grown organically or harvested from the wild, they contain high amounts of pesticide residue.
5. Carrots. You were probably forced to eat these at the dinner table when you were a kid. That's because they are the richest vegetable source of vitamin A, which can help you see in the dark. Carrots can protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic inflammation. Carrots are exposed to more than 26 toxic pesticides.
6. Celery. They have lots of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. The leaves are very flavorful and contain vitamin A, and the stems contain B and C vitamins. They have been shown to lower stress hormones and relax blood vessels. Celery is exposed to many pesticides, you should always buy organic when possible.
7. Cherries. They rival blueberries in their antioxidant levels, especially the tart ones, which can ease arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. They contain high levels of melatonin, which helps regulate many biological cycles in our bodies. Emerging studies are revealing that cherries are very important to heart health, but non-organic cherries have high levels of harmful inorganic compounds.
8. Grapes. Domesticated in southern Turkey, grapes and their products, like wine, contain the beneficial nutrients that reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol, reducing blood clots, and preventing several types of cancers. Grapes are exposed to pesticides, so buy organic grapes and organic brands of wine.
9. Kale. Considered to be one of the most nutritious vegetables, recent studies have shown that kale and other cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cabbage) posess powerful anti-cancer properties. Boiling kale reduces the number of these powerful nutrients, but steaming and stir frying actually does not result in a significant nutrient loss. Kale contains chemicals that boost DNA repair in cells and block the growth of cancer cells. Also, lactose-free people take note-- Kale is high in calcium. Unfortunately, this super-food is on the list of the ten most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables in the United States. Always buy organic.
10. Lemons and Limes. Ancient people used lemons and limes for their antiseptic properties. Studies in West Africa, where many cholera epidemics have occurred, have linked limes to protection against contracting cholera. Ceviche, a popular Latin American dish, calls for raw fish to be "cooked" in lime juice, which effectively kills any harmful bacteria. Laboratory tests have shown that compounds in lemons and limes effectively fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach, and colon. Lemons and limes are exposed to many toxic pesticides. It is especially important to buy them organic if you are using the rind.
11. Lettuce. The darker the color of the lettuce, the more nutritious it is. Dark colored lettuce contains beta-carotene, which battles some cancers, heart disease, and cataracts. Romaine lettuce is the most nutrient-dense of all varieties. Non-organic lettuce is exposed to a high number of toxic pesticides. Because lettuce often comes "pre-washed", or else undergoes minimal washing at home, its best to buy it organic.
12. Mushrooms. Mushrooms have been used across cultures for thousands of years in food and medicine. They are a great source of potassium and anti-oxidants. Crimini mushrooms are a great source of zinc, and all mushrooms can help prevent Alzheiner's disease and age-related mental functioning problems. Lots of pesticides are used on mushrooms, and they can't be washed.
13. Nectarines. Full of fiber, vitamins, carotenes, potassium, and FLAVOR. These fruits are great for snacking and chock full of antioxidants. Nectarines are heavily sprayed with pesticides. As they have a very thin skin, a lot of pesticides are absorbed into the fruit.
14. Olives. Talk about a punch of flavor! Olives have been glorified in songs and poetry, and they have become symbols of victory, royalty, and peace. The olive tree provides us with its leaves, fruit, and oils. Olives are full of vitamin E and monounsaturated fats, which condition cell membranes and protect cells, helping to erase damage and prevent inflammation. Olives also have anti-cancer properties and have been shown to help with arthritis. Many pesticides are used on olives, so buy them organic.
15. Peaches. Like nectarines, peaches are full of fiber and vitamins. They are considered to be good for your eyes, skin, and the immune system. Non-organic peaches contain very high levels of pesticides.
16. Pears. Also full of vitamins and fiber, pears have many anti-oxidants and could reduce age-related eye problems. They can help lower cholesterol and help ease colitis and gall-bladder disorders. These fruits are very likely to contain pesticide residue.
17. Potatoes. Originating in the Andes, potatoes are now the world's 4th largest food crop. When potatoes aren't fried, they're very healthy and full of fiber. They contain high amounts of vitamin C and potassium, as well as trace minerals. They also contain many anti-oxidants. For the most nutrition, leave the skin on. Non-organic potatoes contain many pesticide residues. Also, its best not to peel potatoes because the skin contains most of the nutrients.
18. Beets. Unless you're Dwight Schrute, you probably don't eat these too often, but they're a rich source of nutrients, with uniquely high levels of anti-carcinogens, anti-oxidants, and carotenoids. They also contain folic acid, which is of utmost importance for pregnant women to include in their diets. Beets lower blood pressure and relax muscles. Both the leafy green top and bright red root are full of nutrients and delicious. The root of the beet, however, absorbs many pesticides.
19. Spinach. Ranked among the healthiest of all foods, spinach is full of anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agents. In order to maintain the high vitamin and anti-oxidant content, eat spinach raw, steamed, or quickly boiled. Many pesticides are used on spinach, so you should buy it organic. Also, due to the high amount of contamination seen in recent years and the recalls of spinach products, I recommend only buying from local growers or growing your own in order to ensure safety and hygiene.
20. Strawberries. They are ranked among the top 20 anti-oxidant providing fruits. They protect the heart, and possess many anti-cancer qualities. They usually contain high levels of pesticides, externally and internally.
Here is a similar article I wrote about buying non-organic produce:
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