This isn’t news for anyone as I am sure you know that fresh fruits and vegetables are the most important food in our diet. The health experts recommend we eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables every day. No matter how many portions you eat daily, vegetables should make up for most of them. Although fruits are a super food, as you know they are high in sugar and if you go overboard on one kind of food, it’s never good. Very rarely people need to cut back on fruits though, more often they need to aim to eat more.
WHY BUY ORGANIC FRUITS AND VEGETABLES?
Agriculture has become so modernised that it has completely changed our fruits and veg. Non-organic produce is normally grown with the use of toxic chemicals and pesticides, residues of which remain in the food we eat. This type of farming has an impact not just on us but on the environment as well. A good example are the bees, which are disappearing with a great speed because of the heavy use of pesticides. Bees are responsible for 80 % of the pollination worldwide and are one of the most important creatures on this planet. By buying organic fruits and vegetables you are not supporting the conventional farmers. In organic produce, the use of pesticides is kept to a minimum.
Another benefit of organic fruits and vegetables is that they have been proven to be in most cases more nutritious than non-organic. Some have been found to have up to 50% more antioxidants!
Additionally, organic fruits and vegetables are GMO free. Industry says that GMO foods posses no greater risk to human health than conventional food but the truth is that no one knows the potential long-term impact GMOs have on human health. The good news is that in UK and Europe the only commercially grown GM crop is the corn, however UK & EU does import some GM fruits and veg from other countries such as papaya. GM is a main concern when it comes to meat and dairy (animals are given GM feed) and crops imported from outside EU (rice, soy) but not so much to the fruits and vegetables we eat.
Main benefits of organic fruits and vegetables are:
- organic produce contains fewer pesticides
- organic farming is better for the environment
- organic produce has been grown using natural fertilizers rather than synthetic and chemical fertilizers
- organic fruits and vegetables are more nutritious
ORGANIC ON A BUDGET
Organic food often comes at a higher price, not all of us can afford to buy only organic fruits and vegetables and it’s not absolutely necessary you do. Some non-organic conventionally grown fruits and vegetables have been found to have low pesticides levels. This is because some fruits and veg can naturally protect themselves from pests, usually because they have a thick skin and farmers don’t need to use pesticides. The Environmental Working Group is an American organisation that annually tests the pesticides levels in 51 fruits and vegetables. Below you can see a summary of the results from the latest report. One thing to note is that this report has been put together by testing fruits and vegetables in the US and may differ from the situation in the UK and Europe. Although there may be some differences, we can assume that the way these plants are grown are fairly similar in the two continents (except those that are imported).
A report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirms that in Europe as well, strawberries, lettuce and apples are with the highest contamination. You can find a more detailed UK report from The Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food here that shows that 25 samples of fruits and vegetables tested in 2013 contained residues above the maximum permitted levels and also shows that Apricots and Cherries are with high contamination in the UK as well.
On average papaya and corn are found to be some of the crops that have the lowest pesticides levels but one of the reasons for this is because they have been genetically modified to be able to resist viruses. They have been removed from the list below for this reason.
MOST NUTRITIOUS FRUITS & VEGGIES
Berries – all rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Blueberries are ranked No. 1 in antioxidant activity.
Avocado – provides all 18 essential amino acids to help the body synthesize proteins. It also contains healthy monounsaturated fats.
Kale & Spinach – Kale is a superfood that provides us with 680 % of your daily VItamin K, 200% of vitamin A and almost 200% of Vitamin C. Spinach is very rich in those vitamins as well but the percantages are slighly lower.
Banana – this delicious sweet fruit is one of the richest in potassium fruits. Potassium is an element that’s essential for the body’s maintenance and metabolism. Bananas also have high levels of serotonin, also known as the “happy hormone” and can boost your enery levels. Try and have a banana before a workout for an energy punch.
Coconut – very rich in potassium and fatty acids. It has been proven that these fatty acids can significantly reduce apetite and help with weight loss. In exotic countries where people consume coconuts in large quantities are one of the healthiest people.
Brussels Sprouts – high in fiber and a great source of vitamin K and C. It also has high levels of folate which is crucial for your immune system and DNA Production.
Broccoli – very rich in antioxidants that can help prevent cancer, it is also rich in fibre, VItamin C and folate.
Carrots – this bright orange vegetable is full of betacarotene, which is converted in vitamin A in our body for a healthy skin and vision.
Red bell peppers – full of minerals, vitamin K, C and many antioxidants.
Eggplant – another great source of antioxidants and also helps maintain the blood cholesterol levels.