Drs. Oz & Roizen: Clean your fruits and veggies

February 24, 2014 

Myth has it that when the Greek goddess Aphrodite heard Adonis had perished, her tears fell to earth as red hearts, and strawberries were created.

Ironically, strawberries deliver a phytonutrient called anthocyanins that can help slash your risk of a broken heart. Eating berries three times a week helps prevent heart attack.

But you want to get the benefits without risking a tummyache, diarrhea or worse. Berries, along with leafy greens, potatoes, tomatoes and sprouts, are the fresh produce most likely to trigger food-borne illness. That’s because they can harbor salmonella, norovirus, E. coli and other troublemakers if produce is exposed to contaminated water or mishandled during processing or shipping. They can also pick up these bugs if you don’t store or cook them correctly.

So ...

- Wash your hands for 20 seconds before and after handling produce.

- Cut away discolored or soft spots and outside or wilted leaves. Skip the sprouts unless cooked.

- Wash produce in running water — no soap or disinfectant — even if you’re going to peel or cook it. Dry to further remove contaminants.

- Scrub firm produce like melons or cucumbers with a vegetable brush. Dry well.

- Store all produce in the fridge at 40 degrees.

- Cooking produce to 160 degrees, for even a few seconds, will kill parasites, viruses and most bacteria. Take extra care when cooking potatoes in aluminum foil; it’s a greenhouse for microorganisms.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.

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