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17 Toxic Fruits and Vegetables You May Be Eating Every Day

17 Toxic Fruits and Vegetables You May Be Eating Every Day

Have you ever heard of the “dirty dozen”? That description generally relates to the 17 most toxic fruits and vegetables that most people consume on a regular basis. These are considered toxic because of the sheer amounts of pesticides and herbicides that are slathered over them on conventional farms, but don’t think for a second that there are only 17 food items out there that are harmful for you, or that those not on the list are free and clean. Any fruit or vegetable not labeled as “organic” is contaminated with some chemical or another; those not listed here are just slightly less hazardous to your health.

1. Apples

Pesticides cling to apple skin, and can be absorbed into the flesh beneath. Wash fruit thoroughly, and peel before eating.

2. Celery

An average of 64 difficult-to-wash-away chemicals can be found on any given bunch of celery, and considering that celery is basically a water-uptake plant that draws liquids (and toxins) from the soil, do you really want to think about what might be running through your veins after you’ve eaten a stalk or two?

3. Sweet bell peppers

Insects love these sweet, crunchy vegetables, and if you don’t buy organic, you are consuming all kinds of harmful pesticides with every bite.

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4. Peaches

If you love peaches, go for canned instead of fresh. These luscious globes are right behind celery as far as toxin levels go.

5. Strawberries

Strawberries are the most chemical-intensive crop in California, and those grown in South America may be laden with even more, as restrictions aren’t as severe in developing countries. Some organic growers apparently joke that conventionally grown strawberries can be ground up and used as pesticides themselves, since they’re so contaminated.

6. Nectarines

These peachy cousins are just as coated with chemicals, and have even thinner skins to absorb them through.

7. Grapes

A single grape may test positive for 15 different chemicals. How many would be consumed by eating a handful of them?

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8. Spinach

Spinach is so prone to insect nibblings that conventional farmers have to douse it in (carcinogenic!) chemicals just to keep the bugs off. Guess what gets absorbed into each and every leaf?

9. Lettuce

Non-organic lettuce and kale are contaminated with more chemicals than you really want to think about. If you can’t grow your own, please buy organic instead.

10. Pears

Like apples, these fruits are sprayed constantly to get rid of mites, aphids, moth eggs, and countless other critters.

11. Raspberries and Blueberries

Insects absolutely love these berries, and the fruits are so delicate that they can fall apart right on the bush. Naturally, they’re soaked in fertilizers for growth and stability, and an absolute cocktail of pesticides to keep the insects from nibbling them.

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12. Potatoes

First, potato “eye” seeds are doused in pesticides to keep insects from eating the sprouts. Then, they’re sprayed with herbicides so no other plants grow near them. They’re basically exposed to chemicals every week for their entire growing season, resulting in chemical accumulation to the core of every tuber.

If you’re fond of eating these fruits and veggies, it’s far better for you to choose organic options, or try to grow your own organic/heirloom varieties in your garden, if possible.

It would seem that foods that have thick outer rinds can stand up to contamination better than those above, and the cleanest choices you can make include onions, avocado, pineapple, cabbage, melons, eggplant, squashes, sweet potatoes, and non-GMO corn.

Naturally Toxic

There are also several foods that contain high levels of toxins on their own, long before they’re doused in poisonous chemicals. Although some of them lose their initial toxicity during the cooking process, they may still have properties that can be harmful to both people and pets. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

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13. Chocolate

Most people will never have a bad reaction to the theobromine found in chocolate, thank goodness for us choco-fiends, but those with compromised immune systems may find themselves getting quite ill after eating it. That said, chocolate can be fatal to dogs and cats, so don’t share your favorite candy bar with any of your furred friends.

14. Beans

Most legumes (beans and lentils) contain a chemical called phytohaemagglutinin, though it’s most concentrated in red and white kidney beans, followed by fava beans. Lima beans also contain a toxin known as limarin, which can only be neutralized if the beans are cooked thoroughly for about 15 minutes. The same goes for the kidney and other beans mentioned above: they MUST be boiled for at least 10 minutes before any other cooking procedure, including slow-cooking.

Failure to rid these legumes of their toxins can result in severe gastro-intestinal distress, and can even be fatal at higher doses. Never let pets eat raw beans, as they can be fatal nearly instantly, especially to pet birds. (Canned beans are fine.)

15. Green Potatoes

If you go for organic potatoes, they’re absolutely fine for you‒until they start to go green. When spuds start to go green (yay chlorophyll!) it’s a warning that solanine is now present in the tubers, and eating them will make you seriously ill.

16. Rhubarb

Although the stalks lend a lovely tartness to pies and preserves, be sure that you don’t eat ANY part of the leaves‒the convulsions and death really aren’t worth a nibble or two.

17. Mushrooms

The mushies that you find at the supermarket will be harmless to anyone except those with an allergy to fungi, but some people are fond of foraging for wild mushrooms in forests and such. Most mushroom-related deaths occur when people eat the death cap (Amanita phalloides) or destroying angel (Amanita bisporigera) mushrooms by accident. If you’re not an absolute expert when it comes to wild mushroom identification, err on the side of caution and don’t put anything in your mouth.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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