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Keeping Healthy Foods Safe To Eat: Veggies & Fruits

If you're changing your eating habits or trying to lose weight, a new "you" should undoubtedly include a new, healthier diet in which fruits and veggies play a vital role in your meal plan.

Unfortunately, many people who attempt to cultivate healthy eating habits may be unfamiliar with the safe handling and preparation of raw foods from the field. The purpose of this article is to provide a few simple tips to help optimize your nutrition and dining pleasure. Follow these steps to ensure that your meals will start with a clean bill of health.

It's A Long Way From The Farm To The Fork

During picking, shipping, packing and storage, there are many opportunities for healthy foods to contact potentially unhealthy contaminants. Before it gets to you, produce may be exposed to pesticide residue, bacteria, everyday dirt and more.

Here are some recommendations for keeping food safe to eat:

  • Thoroughly rinse all fruits and vegetables under running water before eating — even those with a peel, skin or rind that isn't normally eaten, like melons, citrus and bananas — to prevent the transfer of bacteria to the inside during slicing.
  • Use a small vegetable brush to remove any visible dirt on the surface of the produce.
  • For leafy vegetables, like lettuce and spinach, remove a few outer leaves and break open the head. Remove individual leaves and gently rinse, massaging between the thumb and forefinger. Place clean leaves in a colander and drain thoroughly.
  • Do not use soap, detergents or bleach. These can leave a potentially harmful residue and cause a variety of health issues, including poisoning.
  • Damaged or bruised areas can harbor bacteria, so make sure you remove them before eating.
  • Wash and prepare produce just before you want to eat it. Cleaning then storing can actually accelerate spoilage.
  • Many consumers and restaurant professionals use a commercially available"vegetable wash." However, neither the Food and Drug Administration nor the Department of Agriculture recommends them, citing inconclusive evidence of their cleaning effectiveness.
  • Whether you're new to weight management or simply seeking a healthier lifestyle, adding fruits and vegetables to your diet can be very beneficial. It can also open the door to many nutritious new flavor combinations and taste experiences. So go ahead. Enjoy Mother Nature's bounty. Just remember to wash up before you eat.