Eating for Health

200464164-001Contributed by Angela Fitch, MD, ABOM

As a weight management doctor, I feel one of the most important things you can do to live healthier is to eat what I call a “plant-strong diet,” meaning more fruits and vegetables. For most people, this does not mean they have to commit to being vegetarian. But I am suggesting that because the foods we consume impact both our physical and mental health, eating whole foods will undoubtedly have a big impact on how you feel. Plant sources of protein offer many health benefits. They are often higher in fiber and have more vitamins and a wider variety of nutrients than other protein sources. They are also generally lower in calories and have less fat. Another advantage is that plant-based protein sources are usually less costly than other sources, making meatless meals a budget-friendly way to improve your diet.

Avoid the “dirty dozen”—watch out for these high-pesticide foods

But how do we know which fruits and veggies to fill our carts with and when it makes sense (and cents) to buy organic? Luckily, The Environmental Working Group has a list of the best produce to buy organically to help us stretch our grocery budget and reduce our exposure to harmful pesticides and chemicals. The “dirty dozen” listed below were found to have the highest amount of pesticide residue. Next time you’re doing the grocery shopping, consider reaching for organic options of these family favorites:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Cherry tomatoes
  4. Cucumbers
  5. Grapes
  6. Hot peppers
  7. Nectarines (imported)
  8. Peaches
  9. Potatoes
  10. Spinach
  11. Strawberries
  12. Kale/collard greens

The same group also compiles the “clean fifteen ,” a list of 15 fruits and vegetables you don’t need to buy organically. Items like asparagus, pineapple and grapefruit were found to have low levels of pesticide residue. So when it comes to these, stick to non-organic options to save a little money.

So whether you are looking to shed some extra pounds or boost your overall energy level and health, one of the best things you can do is to eat a “plant-strong diet.” Work the organic versions of the “dirty dozen” and the conventional versions of the “clean fifteen” into your meals and you will feel the positive effects!

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