Health Advice



How to wash your vegetables and fruit for max health and safety

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

When k.d. lang sang "Wash Me Clean" -- "Wash, wash me clean/mend my wounded seams/cleanse my tarnished dreams" -- she wasn't talking about sprucing up her salad greens or getting ready to stir-fry some broccoli, but she could have been. Figuring out the right way to make fresh produce truly fresh can be a challenge.

You may worry about foodborne illnesses caused by bacteria, like salmonella or listeria, and viruses, such as the norovirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are around 48 million such cases in the U.S. annually. Plus, you want to get rid of pesticide residue and dirt. So you end up wondering, "Soap or no soap? Peel or no peel? Soak or no soak?"

-- One study in the Journal of Food Protection found that presoaking in water before rinsing significantly reduced bacteria in apples, tomatoes and lettuce. And levels of bacteria on the surface of lettuce after soaking in lemon or vinegar solutions weren't significantly better than when cold tap water was used.

-- Don't use standard soaps, commercially-produced washes (they're not tested or regulated) or detergents, cautions the Food and Drug Administration. They can permeate porous fruit and vegetables and make you ill. Stick with clear, cool water.

-- Rinse the skin or rind you're peeling off or cutting through. Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush. You don't have to wash prewashed greens.

-- To reduce pesticide residue, soak and rinse with water; peel the skin if you want. Remember, the health benefits of eating fresh produce far outweigh the risks of taking in pesticide residue.



Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c)2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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