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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.

More by this author

Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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