Produce and Pesticides: What You Need to Know

The healthy fruits and vegetables you’re eating could actually be loaded with harmful pesticides. A recent study found that some produce had traces of more than 60 pesticides on them! Find out which foods are affected and how to protect yourself.

Disturbingly, many farmers are using pesticides to prolong the lives of their crops. These chemicals enable foods to travel long distances and protect them from natural predators and pests. They also can cause major harm to your body when you consume them. Eating food with that contains large doses of pesticides can wreak havoc on your nervous system and negatively affect your heart and lungs. Find out which produce can put your health at risk.


These are Dr. Oz’s most wanted: the dirtiest fruits and vegetables.



Strawberries are mostly imported from countries that have less stringent regulations for pesticide use. As many as 59 pesticides have been detected in the residue on certain strawberries. The strawberry’s external seeds make them difficult to properly clean. Look for strawberries in season and grown either locally or in the United States. Try soaking them for about 2 minutes in water before rinsing to help loosen the dirt and chemicals


Apples are typically sprayed with poisons to kill a variety of pests, from fungi to insects. Tests have found as many as 42 different pesticides within the residue on apples.  Another reason apples tend to be especially dirty is that growers apply food wax to make them shiny and help them survive long shipping distances. Be sure to avoid apples that look too shiny or smell waxy instead of fresh.


Spinach has been found laced with as many as 48 different pesticides. Extra pesticides are added to spinach because the leaves are especially susceptible to damage from the leaf miner beetle, which lays its eggs on the underside of the leaf. Additionally, when pesticides are sprayed on ground vegetables, the pesticide can seep into topsoil, causing more exposure to the plants.


A safer and more economical option is to buy frozen spinach. It’s cheap and the washing and blanching it undergoes before freezing can remove as much as 90% of the pesticide residue.


Peaches grown in conventional orchards have revealed as many as 62 pesticides on their fuzzy, delicate skin, which absorbs pesticides like a sponge. A quick rinse is not enough to clean a peach. Instead, try using a disinfecting produce spray. Click here for Dr. Oz’s healthy produce spray recipe.


Now that you know what to avoid, here is some of the cleanest produce:


Onions’ thick outer layers act as a barrier from pesticides and protect the vegetable on the inside.


Corn husks are very strong and help protect the kernels. Their stalks are also very tall, giving it some distance from soil, where pesticide can seep.


Kiwi has a fuzzy outer skin that protects the fleshy fruit as it grows, creating an impermeable layer against pesticides.

Will you ever feel comfortable in your own skin? That is, if you don't make an effort to protect it? Although 64% of adults do report wearing sunscreen when outside for prolonged periods of time, it turns out that only about 10% of people surveyed actually protect themselves daily, according to a recent review.

No matter what your skin tone is, unless you live in a cave with no sunlight, daily protection with either sunscreen, sunblock or protective clothing can not only protect you from developing sunburns (ouch!) but can significantly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, particularly the deadliest type called melanoma. In addition, for those of you wanting to keep your youthful looks, daily sunscreen has been shown to reduce the development of wrinkles. A great teacher once told me that the best way to not have wrinkles is not to get them in the first place (think of how much money you can save on useless creams that claim to diminish wrinkles).

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