We’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you eat.” So what exactly are we eating? Are the fruits and vegetables that we’re told we need to eat more of safe to eat? What does clean eating for seniors look like?

You may have heard of the annual report conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) called the “2015 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.” This report takes food testing data from the USDA and identifies the produce with the most pesticides and the least and ranks them accordingly. The EWG wants to inform people about what is going into their bodies and to help them make the best choices when purchasing produce. The idea is that you would buy items off of the Clean Fifteen™ list, but buy organic if you want items that are on the Dirty Dozen™ list. While this report is geared toward all consumers, we want to use it as a guide for clean eating for seniors.

The diet of a senior is very important and family members and other caregivers should be well versed in the need for clean eating for seniors. Avoiding foods high in sugar and saturated fats is common knowledge, but it is also important to be wary of foods that are highly concentrated with pesticides, also known as the Dirty Dozen.

So what foods are on the Dirty Dozen list?

Produce with the highest pesticide concentration includes: apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. Each of these foods tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and showed higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce items.

And here are the Clean Fifteen.

The produce least likely to hold pesticide residues includes avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods, and tests found low total concentrations of pesticides on them.

Download the complete list.

Select Home Care Pasadena caregivers often provide meals for their seniors. They have been trained on the importance of nutrition and can encourage clean eating for seniors. If you have any concerns about your senior loved one’s nutrition, please call our office at 626-799-4855.