Seasonal Fruits & Vegetables

Whether it’d be walking through the juice aisle or produce, fruits and vegetables seem to be available all year long. The weather obviously changes throughout the year, not allowing harvest to be 24-7 so why are these foods always at the grocery store? In order to make the most of their crops, and make their products available and please consumers, manufacturers freeze, can, dry, or juice fruits and vegetables.

The best types of fruits and vegetables to buy are of course FRESH (low in fat, sodium & calories & rich in fiber), but frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice are good choices as well. When choosing a type other than fresh. be aware of increased calories from added sauces, syrups, sugars and other ingredients.

Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables have many health benefits. As we all know, these foods are filled with vitamins like phytonutrients and antioxidants; these may aid in decreased risk of chronic diseases, weight loss, protect from certain cancers, lower blood pressure, decrease bone loss, and proper digestive function.

Next time you need to stock up on these colorful foods, travel to your local farmer’s market instead of the grocery store. Purchasing fruits and vegetables that are in season from a farmer’s market helps to support local farmers. It’s a great way to talk to them one on one about how they maintain their crops, if they are organic, and answer any other questions you might have.

Benefits of Buying “In Season” Fruits & Vegetables

BODY - fresh has the most nutritional benefits & “in season” are most likely GMO free

WALLET - many of the same are grown all at once making them cheaper

MIND - buying fresh produce will allow you to cook more & be creative

PALATE - the flavor & texture will be the most rich when fresh from farm to table

Should You Buy Organic?

Organic food is frequently encouraged over conventional foods, but it usually comes with a much higher price tag, which makes many of us think twice at the supermarket. Most of us do not have an unlimited food budget, which makes us wonder “Is it that important to buy organic foods?”

What is Organic?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines organic food as “produced using sustainable agricultural production practices. Not permitted are most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients, or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Organic meat, poultry eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones (1).”

What is the Difference Between Organic and Conventional Foods?

Nutrient wise, organic and conventional fruits and vegetables are nearly identical. For example, an organic carrot has about the same amount of vitamin A as a conventionally grown one.

Some organic meats and organic animal byproducts come from grass fed animals. Grass fed animals and milk from grass fed animals have higher levels of heart health omega-3s, but organically raised animals do not have to be grass fed, so a correlation between organic animal products and omega-3s is not necessarily valid. If you are trying to avoid ingesting antibiotics and hormones, organic animal products are your best bet, but the difference in omega-3 content is not significant enough to encourage organic over conventional solely for heart benefits.

When it comes to avoiding pesticides, organic may be the best choice for certain fruits and vegetables. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a list of the top 12 most pesticide laden foods and the 15 least, the “dirty dozen” and “clean 15,” respectively (2). If purchasing an item from the dirty dozen, try to buy organic whenever possible.

When trying to remember remember the dirty dozen and clean 15, think skin. If the food has a thin, edible skin (e.g. leafy greens or berries), you want to buy organic. If the food has a thick, inedible skin (e.g. banana or pineapple) than the conventional version is fine.  Regardless if a fruit or vegetable is organic or not, fresh fruits and vegetables should always be washed before consuming.

The Bottom Line

If your budget allows, buy organic whenever possible, but if you’re trying to save money, be sure to buy the organic version of the “dirty dozen.”

Resources:

1.     http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?parentnav=FAQS_BYTOPIC&FAQ_NAVIGATION_ID=ORGANIC_FQ&FAQ_NAVIGATION_TYPE=FAQS_BYTOPIC&contentid=faqdetail-3.xml&edeployment_action=retrievecontent

2.     http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/

Content Checked Holdings, Inc. has a family of health apps - ContentChecked, SugarChecked, and MigraineChecked that help users make more suitable choices at the grocery stores, based off of their personalized dietary needs. Download all three apps for free in the App Store or Google Play. Have questions about Nutrition, Weight Loss, Food Allergies or Migraines? Get your Nutrition questions answered by our team of Nutritionists by connecting with us on social media: @contentchecked, @sugarchecked, @migrainechecked.

No green thumb needed

It is a beautiful time of year, in the middle of the summer, and if you are anything like me you are loving all of the fresh food that is in season. It seams like the only way you can get anything more fresh is by growing it in your backyard. Well, that it exactly what you can do!