A Nutritionist Shares 10 Vegetables That Aren't as Healthy as You Think
We are always told to eat our vegetables, but what if some vegetables just aren't that great for us? Although this is a list of the unhealthiest vegetables, a vegetable from the earth is still a whole food that contains vitamins and minerals and has unique healing properties--but sometimes there are just much healthier options out there.
Here, certified nutritional practitioner and co-founder of The Living Kitchen Tamara Green shares 10 vegetables you should beware of.
While white potatoes do have health benefits, many people consider them to be more of a starch and when compared with their green vegetable friends they don’t really stand up to the nutritional punch.
They're also on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list--they are one of the vegetables that have the highest pesticide levels, which is harmful for our nervous system and especially our liver, one of the hardest-working organs.
These spuds are part of the nightshade family, a group of vegetables that contain alkaloids, which have an impact on nerve-muscle function, joint function and digestive function.
Some great substitutes for white potatoes are sweet potatoes, mashed cauliflower and jicama.
Corn is another staple in the diet, it's grilled on the BBQ in summers, popped into bags for movies, processed into a syrup, scooped into salsas, and made into breakfast cereals.
Corn has been the subject of serious genetic modification. The problem with GMOs is that when new genes are added to corn, our bodies are then introduced to new proteins that we do not recognize, usually resulting in major sensitivities, hormonal changes and changes within the digestive tract.
Corn is also one of the most common food allergens in North America and is fed to cows in order to fatten them up and create a nice marbling affect in the meat. Imagine what it’s doing inside of our bodies. If corn is a must, definitely opt for organic.
Many North Americans suffer from inflammation, which is one of the biggest precursors to heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Although the inflammation that causes these diseases is usually from heavily processed or refined foods, stress and genetics; nightshades, such as peppers, may definitely contribute. Peppers contain the alkaloid, solanine, which can disrupt nerve function and lead to twitching, convulsing and trembling. Bell peppers also pose a problem for joint health. Unfortunately, this vegetable is not recommended for people with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or people with any joint issues.
Peppers have also made their way on the dirty dozen list.
Eggplants are also a part of the nightshade family and have some of the highest levels of solanine among all of the nightshade vegetables. For people with chronic inflammation or serious joint problems, it's a very good idea to stay far away from these purple veggies.
Eggplant contains oxalates, a naturally occurring substance, that play a big role in causing kidney stones. People who have kidney or gallbladder issues or are prone to stones should stay away.
Conventional, meaning non-organic, spinach is also on the unhealthiest vegetable list. While spinach is loaded in vitamin A and K and has anti-cancer properties, conventional spinach has one of the highest levels of pesticides. Spinach has more than 48 pesticide residues found on it according to the USDA Pesticide Data Program. That means a big risk of carcinogens, hormone disrupting and neurotoxins.
Spinach also contains oxalates and purines, which can lead to gout and kidney stones. Again, those with kidney problems, it might be best to stay away.
Cherry tomatoes are a great snack and the lycopene within tomatoes are known to protect against prostate cancer and osteoporosis. However, tomatoes are nightshades that can increase inflammation within the body, especially within the joints. It's a good idea for anyone with arthritis or joint problems to limit their consumption of tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes have also landed themselves on the dirty dozen list containing about 35 pesticide residues.
Cucumbers are very refreshing vegetables, yet they've also made it onto the dirty dozen list. Cucumbers have 35 pesticide residues and similar to celery, most of them are hormone disruptive. The second highest pesticide residues are neurotoxins. Conventional cucumbers can do quite a bit of harm to our bodies considering the pesticide levels.
Conventional cucumbers also contain a synthetic wax that is usually made up of chemical contaminants. Opt for organic cucumber to avoid the pesticide residue and to avoid synthetic waxes.
Many people deem this vegetable to be close to nutritionless, a simple vessel for dips and not much else. Although this vegetable does pack a fiberous punch and new research has shown its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, celery is high up on the dirty dozen list.
According to the USDA, celery has been found to have 68 pesticide residues; most of these pesticides being potent hormone disruptors. It’s time to jump on the organic celery bandwagon.
Kale is one of the most nutritious vegetables out there, it's a local superfood and has many, many healing properties; however, it is on the dirty dozen plus list.
According to Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, non-organic kale is contaminated with organophosphate insecticides that are highly toxic to the nervous system. Kale is goitrogenic, meaning it can cause or contribute to goiters, but this really only affects people who have an unhealthy thyroid. For people who are healthy, the goitrogenic nature of kale should not be a problem. Similar to spinach and eggplant, kale contains oxalates and consumption should be slightly monitored if one has an untreated kidney or gallbladder problem.
Summer squash is chock full of great minerals, fibre and vitamins; yet, it’s another one that’s made the dirty dozen plus list.
Similar to kale, summer squash is contaminated with organophosphate insecticides and according to the USDA, has 41 pesticide residues, most of them being hormone disruptive and toxic to bees.
Summer squash is another one that’s on the oxalates list and can play a role in kidney stones, so those with kidney problems may want to monitor their intake.