Monday 7 October 2013

How to wash veggies, fruits the right way and prevent diseases

How to wash veggies, fruits the right way and prevent diseases

by Anusuya Suresh

Full of vitamins, minerals and fiber, vegetables and fruits are one of the vital ingredients of a healthy diet. Unfortunately, the conditions in which they are grown and transported can often cause them to become contaminated with several harmful substances. Therefore, unless you take sufficient care to clean it, the very same natural produce may turn out to be the harbinger of illness.

Common contaminants in produce

Vegetables such as carrots, potatoes and ginger that grow underground and green leafy vegetables are generally found to be coated with a layer of mud that is home to several harmful bacteria. Other vegetables that arise from the aerial parts of the plant also carry dust due to being exposed to the atmosphere. Besides, the water, pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers used to grow the vegetables may also become a source of contamination.

Dangers posed by contaminated vegetables

Dirt sticking to the vegetable surface contains thousands of microorganisms; these are known to be responsible for a wide range of foodborne illnesses that lead to symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain, cramps and diarrhoea. Besides, certain chemicals such as the fertilizer and pesticides used to help the plant grow are known as potential risk factors for other diseases such as cancer. (Read: Beware of food allergies!)

Washing vegetables the healthy way

Choosing vegetables that have been grown using organic farming methods is definitely wise but even the simple act of washing produce thoroughly can help cut the risks posed by contaminants. Here are a few tips on the proper procedure to follow when handling raw vegetables.

Use clean water:

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water before you handle raw vegetables. Make sure you use potable (drinkable) water to clean vegetables and fruits . If the quality of your locally supplied water is suspect, make it a point to give the vegetables a final rinse with drinking water from your water purifier, before you begin cooking or eating them.

Keep a brush handy for difficult to clean veggies:

For vegetables and fruits that have a thick and dusty skin, it is good to use a brush or scrubber that is reserved exclusively for this purpose. By gently brushing the surface, such produce can be more effectively freed from dirt and microbes.

Cut vegetables, likely to harbor worms, into small chunks:

Vegetables that have a lot of nooks and corners – broccoli and cauliflower, for instance – may harbor worms, dirt and microbes in places that are difficult to access. The best option in such cases is to cut the vegetable into smaller chunks and then soak them in water for some time before washing under running water. It is a common Indian practice to add a pinch of salt and turmeric to the water used for soaking cauliflower; both these ingredients do have a beneficial antimicrobial effect.

Wash green leafy vegetables the right way:

Pay a lot of attention to the washing of green leafy vegetables. Separate the roots, leaves and stems and soak each in separate bowls of cold water to fully dislodge the dirt. Drain out the water using a strainer and repeat a few times until all the dirt has left the vegetable. Dry the veggies,  using a paper towel to ensure even better removal of bacteria from the surfaces. (Read: 15 health benefits of methi)

Detergent cleaners for your veggies, may do more harm than good:

Never use a detergent, soap or cleaning agent to clean vegetables or fruits. The outer skin may appear hard and impenetrable but the fact remains that most produce can absorb the chemicals present in cleaning agents through pores in the surface. Once these chemicals find their way into the vegetables, they may have an adverse effect on not just their taste but also their safety.

Soak vegetables in water before washing them:

Avoid simply holding vegetables under running water – this is nothing more than a waste of water. Instead, take a little water in a bowl, immerse the vegetable in it and rub to remove the contaminants sticking to the surface. Begin with vegetables that are less soiled and change the water in between to ensure effective cleaning. Give a final rinse with purified water and then pat the vegetables dry with a clean paper towel.

Peel off the preservative coat:

Cucumbers and apples are often coated with a layer of a waxy substance that has preservative properties. Getting rid of this can be quite difficult and therefore, it makes greater sense to simply peel off the outermost skin of such produce before washing and using it.

Most vegetables and fruits have a natural coat on their surface that helps to retain the moisture within. When you wash produce, this coat is destroyed and therefore, such washed foods are more susceptible to further damage and attack by microorganisms. So avoid storing fruits and vegetables for very long after washing; instead, wash just before you need to use them. While these techniques of washing vegetables can help you deal with surface contaminants, they have no control over determining the safety of the contents within. The best way to ensure your fruits and vegetables are free from contamination by potentially harmful chemicals is to buy produce grown by organic farming techniques.

For more articles on diseases and conditions, check out our diseases & conditions section and for videos, check out our YouTube Channel.  

Show commentsOpen link


Post a Comment

Popular Posts

Copyright © . LOVE - Posts · Comments
Theme Template by BTDesigner · Powered by Blogger