PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If someone asked you to name some healthy foods, you’d probably say fruits and vegetables or milk or even fish.
But there are some things to be careful about when you’re choosing to eat healthy.
Some foods are considered healthy, but the way they’re made or packaged may make them less healthy.
Take, for instance, apples.
“An apple a day is a good thing,” says Elise Drake, a dietetic technician at St. Clair Hospital. “They have fiber, they have vitamins, they have minerals. You want to include apples in a healthy diet.”
But eating lots of apples every day may expose you to pesticides, which could potentially damage the nerves.
Drake says it’s one of the most pesticide-treated foods out there. She recommends buying organic — but if your have standard issue fruit you can still minimize your exposure.
“Make sure it doesn’t have nicks, bruises, you know, nothing that would allow contamination to get into the apple, the pesticides to seep into the apple,” she advises. “Of course, rinse them, even if you’re going to peel them, you should really rinse the apples, too.”
Tomatoes from a can, and other foods from a can, may have traces of something called BPA, absorbed from the lining. This chemical is structurally similar to hormones. This could lead to trouble if you’re a laboratory animal.
“Cancers, early puberty, developmental problems in animals, testing in animals,” Drake explains.
It’s a component of plastics. Some countries have already eliminated BPA from their cans.
“If possible, purchase your things in glass jars, try to purchase things that are BPA free lining,” she advises.
Milk is good for your bones, your teeth, your muscles. So how might it be bad?
Some cows are given hormones in their feed to increase milk production. In some animal lab tests…concerning.
“It does add traces of estrogens and testosterones, which again, can be linked to cancer,” says Drake. “Purchase the organic milk if you’re able to. But I certainly wouldn’t give up milk and dairy products.”
Lower calorie margarine is better than butter, right? Not necessarily.
Margarine can contain trans-fats, also called hydrogenated vegetable oils. These are bad fats that increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Even if the product is labeled trans-fat free, half a gram per serving is still permitted.
“There are some spreads out there that are better. Get the liquid spreads, or the tub spreads that are soft, or the spray spreads,” Drake recommends.
Vegetable oils, such as canola or olive oil, are better choices.
Salmon is good for your heart.
“The omega 3 fatty acids, for sure,” says Drake about the benefit of this food.
But she says go with wild salmon, rather than farmed — because the raised variety is fattened up, and the fat contains what’s bad for you.
“The farm-raised salmon does contain 10 times more toxins in them than the wild salmon does. Those toxins would be PCBs and dioxins,” she says.
These are cancer-causing water pollutants that can contaminate fish feed on farms.
And who could give up the yummy, convenient snack of microwave popcorn? But the non-stick treatment of the inside of the bag is linked to cancer in animal studies.
Popcorn is still a healthy snack, but it’s all in how you make it. On the stove with a little oil and air poppers are your better options.
“It’s fiber, it’s a great snack. You can eat up to three cups and consider it a serving if you’re not slathering it with butter or margarine,” says Drake.
What Does Organic Mean?
When it comes to buying organic, is it truly better, or just a label? The USDA says “organic” means 90 percent free of pesticides, irradiation, and hormones. Nothing is a hundred percent, since farmers share the air, and there can be soil run off between farms.