Health special: Get rid of the pest!

Aug 20, 2014, 08:57 IST | Soma Das

In view of the recent findings by Greenpeace India, whose reports suggest that packaged tea contains pesticides, the guide speaks to nutritionists to find ways to protect oneself

Pesticides is a dreaded word and these are not just affecting fruits and vegetables but even products like packaged tea, now.


Speaking about the current reports, Dr Amrapali Patil, weight management expert, says, “Though pesticide residue may stay on in our food, they break down eventually. This means, only negligible amounts remain in our food by the time we eat it. The breakdown time varies among pesticides. Hence, residue levels vary.”

According to her, washing and scrubbing can remove residue on the surface of fruits and vegetables.

“However, not all pesticides can be removed, especially those that have found their way into food substances. Some of these can cause gastro-intestinal, neurological, hormonal and endocrine problems. Therefore, a good option would be to consume only organic foods,” she advises.

Dr Khushboo Sahijwani, dietitian and nutritionist, emphasises that the consequences of eating foods having a chemical element becomes evident when one hits their 40s and 50s.

“These chemical substances decrease body stamina and the power to fight diseases in old age. Thus, organic food is the best option to help live longer and lead a healthy life,” she maintains.

Go pesticide-free

>> Try to opt for organic options as often as possible.
>> Wash fruits and veggies carefully before consuming them. Use warm water to do the same.
>> Unlike the Dirty Dozen, bananas, watermelon, corn, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli have lesser pesticide residue.
>> Learn gardening. Make your own little farm or small kitchen garden to grow veggies and fruits.
>> Peel the skin off fruits and vegetables when you can.
>> Pressure cooking, frying and baking will remove pesticide residues from pulses and other food grains.
>> Refined oils contain fewer amounts of pesticide residues. Household heating of oils up to a particular flash point will remove pesticide residues.

Who are the dirty dozen?
Pineapples, apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, kale and summer squash contain high levels of pesticide residue. These are called the Dirty Dozen, as they absorb pesticides easily and retain them, so even if washed, they will still have residue.

(Info courtesy: Dr Amrapali Patil and Dr Khushboo Sahijwani)

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