"Healthy" Fruits and Veggies

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Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect humans from chronic diseases. Compared with people who consume a diet with only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts as part of a healthful diet are likely to have reduced risk of certain diseases. Scientific research shows that if you regularly eat lots of fruit and vegetables you have a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer (some forms), heart disease, and high blood pressure. Just by eating strawberries, spinach, broccoli, and yams, you can boost your antioxidant level and strengthen your immune system, so that it can fight off infectious diseases. No wonder we humans think of this food category as “Healthy” Fruits and Veggies.
Why Fruits and Veggies are “Healthy”:
  • To get a healthy variety, think color. Eating fruits and vegetables of different colors gives your body a wide range of valuable nutrients, like fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Some examples include green spinach, orange sweet potatoes, black beans, yellow corn, purple plums, red watermelon, and white onions.
  • According to the CDC, diets rich in dietary fiber have been shown to have a number of beneficial effects including decreased risk of coronary artery disease. Excellent vegetable sources of dietary fiber are navy beans, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, lima beans, white beans, soybeans, split peas, chick peas, black eyed peas, lentils, artichokes.
  • Healthful diets with adequate folate may reduce a woman's risk of having a child with a brain or spinal cord defect. Excellent vegetable sources are black-eyed peas, cooked spinach, great northern beans, asparagus.
  • Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain a healthy blood pressure. Good fruit and vegetable sources are sweet potatoes, tomato paste, tomato puree, beet greens, white potatoes, white beans, lima beans, cooked greens, carrot juice, prune juice.
  • Diets with antioxidants have been shown to prevent certain types of cancer. Excellent examples are kale, spinach, prunes, pomegranates, grapes, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries and blackberries.
  • Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps to protect against infections. Excellent fruit and vegetable sources are sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, collard greens, winter squash, cantaloupe, red peppers, Chinese cabbage.
  • Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and also helps keep teeth and gums healthy. Excellent fruit and vegetable sources are red and green peppers, kiwi, strawberries, sweet potatoes, kale, cantaloupe, broccoli, pineapple, Brussels sprouts, oranges, mangoes, tomato juice, cauliflower.
(Source: FruitsandVeggiesMatter.gov)

Some of the fruits and veggies we've focused on are:
blueberries
apples
spinach
broccoli
grapefruit

Conventional Produce vs. Organic: What Is "Healthy"?organic.png

Pesticides are designed to kill living organisms. Due to their harmful effects on humans, the EPA sets standards for pesticides in food that allow a sufficient margin of safety between human exposure and chemicals known to be harmful. But because of the complexity of people’s diets, the variation in pesticide residues on foods, other lifestyle issues, as well as genetic and environmental factors that can contribute to disease, it is difficult to pinpoint the risks of pesticides in the diet. According to the EPA, infants and children may be especially sensitive to health risks posed by pesticides since their internal organs are still developing and maturing. Pesticides may harm a developing child by blocking the absorption of important food nutrients necessary for normal healthy growth. Another way pesticides may cause harm is if a child's excretory system is not fully developed, the body may not fully remove pesticides. Also, there are "critical periods" in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual's biological system operates. For these reasons, and as specifically required under the Food Quality Protection Act (1996), the EPA carefully evaluates children's exposure to pesticide residues in and on foods they most commonly eat, i.e., apples and apple juice, orange juice, potatoes, tomatoes, soybean oil, sugar, eggs, pork, chicken and beef. EPA is also evaluating new and existing pesticides to ensure that they can be used with a reasonable certainty of no harm to adults as well as infants and children.
(Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

The word "organic" refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don't use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. For example, rather than using chemical weedkillers, organic farmers may conduct more sophisticated crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds at bay. Instead of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, organic farms apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants, and use beneficial insects and birds, along with disruption or traps, to reduce pests and disease.

ewg-shoppers-guide1.jpgThe U.S. Department of Agriculture tests conventionally grown fruit and vegetable samples for dozens and sometimes hundreds of chemicals. These tests have found widespread pesticide contamination on many popular fruits and vegetables. At least one pesticide was found on 63 percent of the samples of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables analyzed. It should be noted that federal regulators do not permit all pesticides to be used on all crops. For example, the list of pesticides approved for use on apples is different from those approved for onions. When USDA tests every sample for a vast array of chemicals, it’s not surprising that 98 percent of tests for individual chemicals come back negative, as “non-detects.” Still, a number of pesticides are approved for each crop, and they will be found. That’s why 63 percent of the produce samples analyzed were found by USDA tests to be tainted with one or more pesticides.

According to the Environmental Working Group (an organization of scientists, researchers and policymakers), certain types of organic produce can reduce the amount of toxins you consume on a daily basis by as much as 80 percent. The group put together two lists, “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15,” to help consumers know when they should buy organic and when it is unnecessary. These lists were compiled using data from the United States Department of Agriculture on the amount of pesticide residue found in non-organic fruits and vegetables after they had been washed.
(Source: EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides)

Of course, eating organic is always healthier (but more expensive) than conventional farming. But given the high incidence of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in conventional grown produce, should humans actually eat more fruit and vegetables? The answer is a resounding “yes!” Even the Environmental Working Group states that the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. In fact, even the produce from the Dirty Dozen list is healthier than less-healthy foods or snacks, such as fat-, sugar- or additive-laden processed products. But with the Shopper’s Guide you can have all the benefits of eating more produce while substantially reducing dietary exposure to pesticides.










Top Ten Picks for Healthiest Fruits and Vegetables


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These top ten fruits and veggies have proven to make the healthiest and tastiest meals by themselves or combined. These foods are anti-inlammatory and hormone balancing. Incorporating these into your daily diet will keep your body running at its ultimate performance, not to mention their impact on the maintenance and upkeep of growth and repair.

  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Pomegranate (juice)
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Fresh Herbs
  • Onions
  • Salad Greens
  • Spinach

For more information on the "Top Ten" Click here.

Salmonella and E. Coli: Foodborne Illnesses

Illness linked to produce is a growing concern among food safety experts as Americans consume more fresh fruits and vegetables, on the recommendation of health experts and the federal government. Every year, about 76 million people contract foodborne illnesses in the United States. About 325,000 of those cases require hospitalization, and 5,000 people die. So, even though fruits and vegetables are extremely healthy for humans, bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli may make them "not so healthy" for us.
Source: Washington Post Article

Salmonella is a type of bacteria that usually causes gastrointestinal illnesses. Occasionally the bacteria can get into the bloodstream, leading to additional complications.Salmonella.png Vegetables can come into contact with contaminated water. A bacteria-carrying person who forgets to wash their hands before food preparation can contaminate vegetables. Vegetables can also become contaminated if placed in close proximity to or mixed with raw poultry, meat or eggs, and unpasteurized milk.
The best way to prevent salmonella is to wash your hands, as well as all preparation surfaces and utensils that have previously come into contact with raw poultry, meat, and eggs, before preparing vegetables. Washing vegetables well should be enough to kill salmonella. By cooking any food product, including vegetables, the risk of contracting a bacteria-related infection goes down tremendously; however, is not eliminated.
Prevention: Washing your hands thoroughly can help prevent the transfer of salmonella bacteria to your mouth or to any food you're preparing. To prevent cross-contamination: Store raw meat, poultry and seafood away from other foods in your refrigerator; if possible, have two cutting boards in your kitchen — one for raw meat and the other for fruits and vegetables; never place cooked food on an unwashed plate that previously held raw meat.
Source: Lifespan.org

E. coli bacteria E_Coli.pngproduces a powerful toxin that damages the lining of the small intestine, which can cause bloody diarrhea. Potential sources of exposure include contaminated produce. Runoff from cattle farms can contaminate fields where fresh produce is grown. Vegetables such as spinach and lettuce are particularly vulnerable to this type of contamination. Human and animal feces may pollute ground and surface water, including streams, rivers, lakes and water used to irrigate crops.
Preventative Measures: Although washing produce won't necessarily get rid of all E. coli — especially in leafy greens, which provide many spots for the bacteria to attach themselves to — careful rinsing can remove dirt and reduce the amount of bacteria that may be clinging to the produce. Source: Mayo Clinic


Citrus Fruits: Safe or Deadly for those on Medications

Within the last twenty years, convincing evidence has piled up that some very beneficial and "healthy" fruits such as grapefruit and a few other citrus fruits, can have devastating effects on the body if consumed while certain medications are being taken. The problem is that certain enzymes that normally break down medication in the digestive system instead break down the citrus products, in effect neglecting their primary duties. As a consequence, powerful medications build up in the blood stream, effectively overdosing the patient. For example, over fifty popular medications are now know to react adversely with grapefruit juice, sometimes with deadly effects. Consequently, it is essential for people on medications to see if their medication interacts adversely with grapefruit or any other food product. Source: University of Rochester Medical Center (www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story)

Conclusion

In summary, one can see that, while certain fruits and vegetables seem genuinely to be healthy, causing few, if any, problems, other normally healthy fruits and vegetables, under the wrong circumstances, can have serious effects on consumers, whether through transmission of serious bacterial infections, interactions with prescribed medications or through the effects of chemical pollution.