Tag Archives: vegetables

Another great reason to go organic: pesticides in our produce

Earlier this summer, The Environmental Working Group released the eighth edition of its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. This is a great resource for consumers and FoodFacts.com wants to make our community aware of its findings.

Researchers different fruits and vegetables to determine pesticide contamination. This year’s study provides information on 45 different fruits and vegetables. All the samples of these fruits and vegetables were either washed or peeled prior to testing. In this manner the study actually reflects the amount of pesticides present when the food is actually being consumed. The results are pretty sad and kind of frightening.

An apple a day, for instance might actually end up sending you to the doctor, instead of keeping the doctor away. 98% of non-organic apples tested contained detectable levels of pesticides. Lettuce samples reflected the presence of 78 different pesticides. All the nectarines tested contained pesticide residue. Grapes “won” in the fruit category, with 64 different pesticides found in samples tested. Strawberries and blueberries were both on the list as well.

Most disturbing, however, was pesticide testing for fruit and vegetable baby food. This year’s study included green beans, pears and sweet potatoes. Sadly, after analyzing about 190 baby food samples, 92% of the pear samples tested positive for at least one pesticide. On the up side virtually none of the sweet potato baby food products contained any pesticide. On the down side, the pesticide iprodione which has been categorized as a probably carcinogen showed up in three baby food pear samples. The pesticide is not registered with the EPA for use on pears at all.

The EPW also publishes a list of produce that is least likely to test positive for pesticides. Those products include asparagus, cabbage, grapefruit, watermelon, eggplant, pineapple, frozen peas and sweet potatoes.

It’s important to note that this report is not designed to reflect the affects of pesticide exposure. It is specifically meant to measure the presence of pesticides in common fruits and vegetables in the produce aisle … and now the baby food aisle as well. Research is ongoing regarding the affects of those pesticides on consumers, which ones and in what amounts. But having an understanding of what pesticides are found and where, can help all consumers make better decisions at the grocery store. FoodFacts.com encourages you to read more about this fascinating report: http://www.ewg.org/release/ewg-releases-2012-shopper-s-guide-pesticides-produce. Information like this helps us all to understand what’s really in our food.

New reasons for women to love their fruits and vegetables

FoodFacts.com is always looking for information that will enrich and enlighten the lives of all our community members. So when we saw this important information for women we knew we needed to post about it here.

A new Swedish study published just yesterday is showing that diets rich in antioxidants from fruits, vegetables and whole grains appear to reduce a woman’s risk for stroke — even if she has a prior history of heart disease. The study involved more than 31,000 women with no history of heart disease and almost 5700 women who had a history of heart disease. All the women involved were between the ages of 49 and 83 and they were followed for eleven and a half years (those with no heart-disease history) and almost 10 years (history of heart disease).

During the study period, more than 1300 of the women in the disease-free group had strokes and more than 1000 in the group with a heart-disease history also suffered them. Each woman’s dietary information was used to determine her individual “total antioxidant capacity” or TAC.

In the heart-disease free group, the women with the highest levels of diet-based antioxidants had a 17 percent lower risk of stroke than those with the lowest levels. But most impressively, it was found that the benefits of antioxidant-rich diets were extended to the group with a history of heart disease. Within this group, women with higher levels of dietary antioxidant capacity had up to a 57 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those with the lowest levels.

Researchers found that fruits and vegetables contributed about 50% of the antioxidant capacity in women with a disease-free history. Of course the study also showed that the women who had the highest levels of antioxidants in both groups were also women who adhered to healthier lifestyles extending beyond their regular diets to include regular exercise and avoidance of smoking.

Of course, we at FoodFacts.com always knew there was a good reason our mothers always told us to eat our vegetables. This new Swedish research simply confirms they were right all along.

Five a day the easy way …

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The recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables every day can seem daunting to some folks. In fact, many of us can really only manage to get our vegetables on our dinner plate and a piece of fruit in between lunch and dinner as a snack. Neither of these is a bad thing, but we’re not getting up to five servings under these circumstances. So FoodFacts.com has some suggestions that will help you meet those recommendations more often and keep your diet interesting and flavorful.

Think about your breakfast
Most people think of breakfast as a bowl of cereal or oatmeal, eggs, or pancakes – the traditional breakfast foods we’re used to (especially those that we’re eating in a rush to get out the door) don’t include fruits or vegetables. Believe it or not, breakfast can be one of the easiest meals in which to include fruits or vegetables.

If you like yogurt and granola, pick up some of your favorite fruits – berries, peaches, grapes, or anything else you’re partial to and you can quickly make a great breakfast parfait by layering the yogurt, granola and fruit in a glass. This is both refreshing and filling.

When eggs are on the menu, choose omelets you can fill with spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, zucchini or any other vegetable you choose. And, if you’re rushed for breakfast, you can keep a bowl of cut-up fruit in your refrigerator to mix into vanilla yogurt to grab and go.

Use a fruit bowl
Have you ever gone to the grocery store and purchased fruits that you knew your whole family would enjoy only to find them getting softer and softer in the refrigerator day by day? Ever hear the old adage “Out of sight, out of mind?”. We think this applies directly to fruit in refrigerators. Get a pretty bowl, fill it with fruit and leave it out where your family can see it. They’ll be much more likely to help themselves to a piece from the bowl because they don’t have to remember to go looking for it in the fridge.

The art of the hidden vegetable
Here’s another old adage we like to apply to vegetables — “What you don’t know can’t hurt you”. We know how difficult it is for some people to eat vegetables. You’d be surprised how many adults have just as much of a problem with them as children do. There are ways to use vegetables that your family will never suspect … and they’ll actually really love. A few thoughts are: shredded carrots in meatloaf, chopped spinach in meatballs, and cauliflower in mashed potatoes — not to mention zucchini bread, carrot bread, and pumpkin bread.

Fruit for dessert
While we understand we’re all trying to be more conscious of our eating habits, we don’t have to give up on dessert completely. You can make an interesting and refreshing fruit salad for everyone to enjoy after dinner or anytime. It’s tasty and healthy and will leave everyone feeling satisfied that they were able to enjoy an after-dinner “treat”.

If you have any other ideas that will help us all reach the recommended five per day servings of fruits and vegetables, please let FoodFacts.com in on them and we’ll make them available to the whole community.

Some consumers willing to pay more for GMO foods

GMO
Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

According to a recent study done by researcher Wallace Huffman at Iowa State University, research shows that some consumers will pay up to 25% more for genetically modified foods. For the few of you that may not know, genetic modification is basically carrying genes from one organism into another to create a new hybrid product. This became popular within the last 2 decades, and we’re still not quite sure if there are any long-term health implications involved. However, it’s still being done by major biotechnology companies, and apparently some people are willing to pay extra bucks for it.

Why are some willing to pay more money? There has been a lot of hype surrounding antioxidants, and some vitamins and minerals. We too recognize that these nutrients can provide an abundance of health benefits, and we suggest getting them from natural sources. However, some fruits and vegetables now undergo intragenic modification (modified within own species, rather than from other species) to take antioxidant properties from other plants, and insert them into new ones. This means that some produce that once lacked a certain vitamin or antioxidant, now has the ability to carry different nutrients.

Some farmers and home-gardeners try accomplishing this through cross-breeding, however this can be very difficult to do with many plants. This is when genetic modification came into play, eliminating the difficulties with cross-breeding.
However, many are still skeptic about purchasing any genetically modified product. Again, we’re not exactly sure of any long-term effects or health implications that this process may cause, because it is still fairly new.

Few studies using animals as subjects have suggested genetic modification to cause renal damage, progressive tumor growth, certain types of cancers, and cardiovascular issues. However, these studies have been for the most part small in sample size and brushed off by government agencies.

“The basic idea is that when consumers saw that the intragenic produce had elevated healthful attributes, they were willing to pay more for them,” said Huffman.

What do you think? Would you be more at comfort knowing a genetically modified product was modified with a plant within its own species rather than a plant outside of its species? Or is genetic modification still lacking evidence for you to trust it at all?

Pesticides linked to ADHD in Kids?

Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

Exposure to pesticides used on common kid-friendly foods — including frozen blueberries, fresh strawberries and celery — appears to boost the chances that children will be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, new research shows.
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Youngsters with high levels of pesticide residue in their urine, particularly from widely used types of insecticide such as malathion, were more likely to have ADHD, the behavior disorder that often disrupts school and social life, scientists in the United States and Canada found.

Kids with higher-than-average levels of one pesticide marker were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD as children who showed no traces of the poison.

“I think it’s fairly significant. A doubling is a strong effect,” said Maryse F. Bouchard, a researcher at the University of Montreal in Quebec and lead author of the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The take-home message for parents, according to Bouchard: “I would say buy organic as much as possible,” she said. “I would also recommend washing fruits and vegetables as much as possible.”
pears
Diet is a major source of pesticide exposure in children, according to the National Academy of Sciences, and much of that exposure comes from favorite fruits and vegetables. In 2008, detectable concentrations of malathion were found in 28 percent of frozen blueberry samples, 25 percent of fresh strawberry samples and 19 percent of celery samples, a government report found.

ADHD affects 4.5 million U.S. kids
Bouchard’s study is the largest to date to look at the effect of pesticides on child development and behavior, including ADHD, which affects an estimated 4.5 million U.S. children. About 2.5 million kids take medication for the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bouchard and her colleagues measured levels of six pesticide metabolites in the urine of 1,139 children ages 8 to 15 selected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2000 and 2004. The study included 119 children who were diagnosed with ADHD.

Unlike other studies of pesticides’ impact, Bouchard’s sample provided a glimpse into average insecticide exposure in the general population of children, not a specialized group, such as children of farm-workers. Because certain pesticides leave the body after three to six days, the presence of residue shows that exposure is likely constant, Bouchard said.

She found that kids with a 10-fold increase in the kind of metabolites left in the body after malathion exposure were 55 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Because the researchers didn’t review the kids’ diets, they couldn’t say why some children had such high levels of pesticide residue. Children are at greater risk from pesticides because their young bodies are still developing and may not metabolize chemicals as well as adults’.
apples
The most alarming finding was a near-doubling in odds of ADHD diagnoses among kids with higher-than-average levels of the most common of the six metabolites detected. Kids with high levels of dimethyl thiophosphate were 93 percent more likely to have the disorder than children with with undetectable levels of the marker.

The research may add to anxiety about ADHD, which has no known cause, said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.

“It does seem to suggest that at non-extreme or more typical levels, there does seem to be some increased risk,” said Adesman, who is on the professional advisory board for Children and Adults with ADHD, an advocacy group.

Pesticides prey on nervous system
Boucher studied organophosphate pesticides, which account for as much as 70 percent of the pesticide use in the U.S. They work by interfering with the nervous systems of insects, but have a similar effect in mammals, including humans. Most people in the U.S. have residues of the products in their urine.

Cheminova, the Danish firm that is the leading manufacturer of malathion in the world, declined to comment on the conclusions of the new research. Diane Allemang, vice president for global regulatory affairs, said she hadn’t seen the study.
Parents of children with ADHD, however, said Bouchard’s work will give them one more thing to worry about.
raspberries
“We’re all completely obsessed with food,” said Jamie Norman, 32, of Freeburg, Ill., whose 6-year-old son, Aidan, was diagnosed with ADHD six months ago.

The stimulant medication Aidan takes, Adderall XR, depresses his appetite, so Norman said she’s always trying to find good foods that he’ll want to eat. Other parents of kids with ADHD choose to use diet, not medication, to control the disorder and they’re constantly monitoring food, too.

News that some of the best foods for kids might be tainted with something linked to ADHD is worrisome, Norman said.
“I’ve known for some time that strawberries, in particular, contain high levels of pesticide, but as far as frozen fruit, I don’t give that a second thought,” she said.

Buy organic, make sure to wash

The best advice for parents — and anyone who wants to avoid pesticides — is to choose foods least likely to contain them. The Environmental Working Group, a consumer advocacy organization, advises shoppers to buy organic versions of a dozen fruits and vegetables that grow in the ground or are commonly eaten with the skin, because they’re most likely to be contaminated.

Make sure to wash all fruits and vegetables under cold running tap water and scrub firm-skinned produce with a brush. Be sure to rinse frozen fruits and vegetables, too.

But don’t wash produce with soap. The Food and Drug Administration says that could leave behind residues of detergent, yet more chemicals that everyone would do best to avoid.

(MSNBC)

Foodfacts.com looks into How To Protect Yourself From Food Poisoning

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Foodfacts.com looks into how to protect yourself from food poisoning. The CDC estimates that roughly 1 in 6 Americans will get sick from food-borne illnesses each year. E. coli outbreaks continue to be a public health problem, both in the States and abroad, especially since our food supply has gone global and we’re able to have fresh produce year-round by importing fruits and veggies. Now, E. coli outbreaks are happening on a never-seen-before scale in Germany with more than 2,500 infections and more than 25 deaths reported since last month. Experts aren’t sure exactly which vegetable triggered the outbreak (though many are pointing to organic sprouts at the moment), or even which country it originated from.

“This particular outbreak shouldn’t affect Americans because it’s rare that perishable produce will make it across the Atlantic, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t risk of an outbreak here in the States,” says Keith R. Schneider, Ph.D, Associate Professor in the Department of Food Safety and Human Nutrition at the University of Florida. Dr. Schneider points out that we’ve had multiple outbreaks in the States, from the salmonella incident linked to Jalapeño peppers in salsa to the E. coli outbreak connected with spinach.

“It’s hard to find the exact source of a food-borne illness because it typically takes two to three days for the first symptoms of an infection to appear, and longer for people to actually visit a doctor. By then, you can’t remember exactly what you ate last Tuesday,” says Dr. Schneider. “Moreover, contamination might not be from a specific farm or food, but from a point of distribution. It might be from one guy named Eddie who isn’t washing his hands while packaging food.”

Still, the health benefits of eating fresh produce far outweigh the risk, says Dr. Schneider. “You’re much more likely to get sick from meat than you are from produce. You can find pathogens on poultry 50 percent of the time. That’s not even a reason for alarm because all it takes is cooking meat fully to completely kill the bacteria.”

The key to avoiding food-borne illnesses is safe handling practices, says Francisco Diez, Ph.D, Professor of Food Safety and Microbiology in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota. “Since poultry is especially likely to have salmonella or another pathogen called campylobacter that normally lives in the intestines of birds, it’s important to cook meat to the proper temperature,” says Dr. Diez.

He recommends using a food thermometer to cook the center of any type of meat or fish to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. “This temperature has sufficient heat to destroy harmful bacteria without overcooking so the meat stays tender and juicy.” Also wash your hands before and after handling meat, and avoid cross contamination by using separate cutting boards and knives for meat and produce.

When it comes to fresh produce, there are certain types that may be more susceptible to pathogens. Here is Dr. Diez’s list of top five at-risk produce, and how to protect yourself from illness.

alfalfa-sprouts-5901. Sprouts.

This type of plant, especially alfalfa sprouts, has been linked with E. coli and salmonella. It grows in wet, humid environments that make it easy for bacteria to thrive. The more bacteria on a plant, the greater your chances of getting sick.

How to stay safe:

Rinsing well may lower the bacteria count but not eliminate it. “If you’re healthy, your immune system can fight off small amounts of pathogens,” says Dr. Diez. He recommends those most susceptible to food-borne illness avoid sprouts, which includes children younger than 8, people older than 65, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems. If you eat sprouts, keep them refrigerated between 35 and 40 degrees to curb bacteria growth.

iceberglettuce2. Lettuce.

Though it’s not exactly clear why it may be more susceptible to contamination, one explanation is that the textured surface of lettuce leaves makes it easier for microbial cells to attach compared to smoother leaves, such as cabbage.

How to stay safe:

Remove the outer leaves on a head of lettuce before eating, and wash it thoroughly. You should submerge the entire head in a bowl of water and soak for a few minutes to loosen any soil, and run under regular water to help rinse away remaining particles.

3. Tomatoes.tomato

The juicy red fruit has been linked with regular but small outbreaks of salmonella, and experts aren’t sure exactly why. “Some people argue that the tomatoes might have been pre-washed with contaminated water that then got into the produce,” says Dr. Diez. “I wouldn’t recommend eliminating tomatoes from your diet because you can take precautions to prevent possible infection.”

How to stay safe:

If you’re eating tomatoes raw, be sure to wash thoroughly in plain water and use a towel to help to wipe away any remaining bacteria. Also, don’t buy tomatoes that are at all cut or bruised. When the skin of any vegetable is damaged, there’s more of a chance for bacteria to get into the product, and then there is no way to eliminate it unless you cook it to ensure pathogens get killed.

4. Melons.melon

Melons have a rugged surface, and pathogens may be more easily trapped in nooks and crannies. Plus, people often forget to wash this fruit since the fleshy part that you eat isn’t readily exposed to germs.

How to stay safe:

Bacteria gets transferred inside the flesh by knives when people cut through the rind of unwashed melons. Before you enjoy your summer cantaloupe or watermelon, be sure to thoroughly wash and scrub the outer surface with a soft produce brush.

5. Spinach.baby_spinach

Like lettuce and melons, spinach leaves‘ crinkly surface may make it more susceptible to bacteria. Also like other produce grown close to the ground, it may come into contact with contaminated animal feces.

How to stay safe:

Submerge spinach leaves in water and dry with a paper towel before eating to reduce your risk of pathogens, or serve cooked as a healthy side dish.

Information provided by Prevention.com

The Dirty Dozen Produce

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Eating these non-organic fruits and veggies will leave you exposed to an average of Ten pesticides a day. So try your best to buy organic when shopping for the ‘Dirty Dozen’.

A quick guide to Twelve produce items that are the most exposed to pesticides known as ‘The Dirty Dozen’. Watch here:

If you can afford to buy a few more Organic items, then, these are the next group you want to focus on:
1. Lettuce
2. Blueberries (Imported)
3. Carrots
4. Green Beans (Domestic)
5. Pears
6. Plums (Imported)
7. Summer Squash
8. Cucumbers (Imported)

New research shows that some pesticides used on strawberries, grapes, lettuce and other produce may disrupt male hormones.

But remember, these produce items are still healthy for you and much, much more nutritious than any processed or sugar filled food.

The Dirty Dozen Produce

Eating these non-organic fruits and veggies will leave you exposed to an average of Ten pesticides a day. So try your best to buy organic when shopping for the ‘Dirty Dozen’.

A quick guide to Twelve produce items that are the most exposed to pesticides known as ‘The Dirty Dozen’. Watch here:

If you can afford to buy a few more Organic items, then, these are the next group you want to focus on:
1. Lettuce
2. Blueberries (Imported)
3. Carrots
4. Green Beans (Domestic)
5. Pears
6. Plums (Imported)
7. Summer Squash
8. Cucumbers (Imported)

New research shows that some pesticides used on strawberries, grapes, lettuce and other produce may disrupt male hormones.

But remember, these produce items are still healthy for you and much, much more nutritious than any processed or sugar filled food.

Are Vegetables Losing Their Nutrition?

Vegetables | Foodfacts.com

Vegetables | Foodfacts.com

You’ve heard it all before. “If you want to be healthy, eat your vegetables!” Certainly, this is still good advice, but there’s a problem creeping in. Vegetables and fruits are losing their nutritious qualities. They may not be providing you with the healthy benefit they used to. Continue reading

Have You Had Your Dose of Antioxidants Today?

antioxidants1

Antioxidants | FoodFacts.com

Foodfacts.com noticed there is much talk today about antioxidants and supposedly, how good they are for you. But what are antioxidants exactly? Antioxidant is a collective name for the vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and polyphenols that protect the body from harmful free radicals that cause damage to our body’s cells. They work to prevent damage to our cells by repairing and slowing the damage that free radicals inflict on our bodies. Continue reading