Strawberries are contaminated with pesticides, poisonous gases -- even after it's picked and washed

Just because it's fruit, doesn't mean it's healthy.

Every year, over 3 billion pounds of strawberries are produced by the United States, constituting a nearly 3 billion dollar business. California is responsible for producing over 90% of the strawberry crop in America, while Florida grows the second most amount. While experts believe the production and consumption of strawberries will continue to grow each year, many are warning of its dangers.

Once again, strawberries have topped the "Dirty Dozen" list -- they are hailed as the fruit "most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues even after they are picked, rinsed in the field and washed before eating", according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Other produce listed includes spinach, nectarines, apples and potatoes.

How to store every single type of fruit:

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How to store every single type of fruit
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How to store every single type of fruit

Apples

How to Store: As soon as you bring them home, stash ‘em in the fridge. They should be good for up to three weeks.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Cover the remaining half (or slices) in tightly pressed plastic wrap and stick the apple back in the fridge. This will help prevent browning, which is caused by oxidation.

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Pears

How to Store: You should refrigerate them for a shelf life of about five days.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Same deal as apples, cover the slices with plastic wrap.

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Avocados

How to Store: Pop them in the fridge as soon as they’re ripe. That way, they’ll keep for about three days. (If they’re not ripe, store them on the counter.)

If You’ve Eaten Some: Brush lemon juice on the uneaten half to prevent it from browning, the press plastic wrap against the surface before putting it in the fridge.

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Bananas

How to Store: These can sit on your countertop and should stay fresh for about five days.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Ideally, the uneaten half is still in the peel. If it is, just wrap the exposed end with plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge.

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Grapes

How to Store: Stick them in a bowl (or ventilated bag, like the one they come in) in the fridge and they should stay fresh for up to a week.

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Raspberries

How to Store: To maximize their shelf life, you should remove the bad ones from the carton first, then lay them out on a paper towel-lined plate in your fridge. This way, they should keep for three to four days.

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Blackberries

How to Store: Ditto the raspberries.

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Tomatoes

How to Store: You can store these guys in the fridge, just let them come up to room temperature before you eat them. (They should stay fresh for about a week.)

If You’ve Eaten Some: It’s best to store them in the fridge with the cut side down on a paper towel inside Tupperware.

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Melons

How to Store: Keep it in the fridge and it should last for a week or more.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Keep any sliced up leftovers in a plastic dish covered with plastic wrap.

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Mangoes

How to Store: Fridge storage is best to keep them fresh for about four days.

If You’ve Eaten Some: It’s fine to keep chopped up mangoes in a plastic bag in the fridge.

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Blueberries

How to Store: Get rid of any overripe berries, then keep them in their original plastic container inside the fridge. (They should last a full week.)

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Cherries

How to Store: Stick them in a bowl and keep them inside the fridge for a three-day shelf life.

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Oranges

How to Store: Just set them in a bowl on your countertop and they should stay fresh for a week or more.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Keep any uneaten slices in a plastic baggie.

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Grapefruit

How to Store: Just like oranges, this can also rest on your countertop for about a week for maximum freshness.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Store leftovers (plus, whatever juice you can save) in a plastic container.

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Kiwi

How to Store: Tuck them in the fridge and they should last three to four days.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

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Peaches

How to Store: If they’re ripe, pop them in the fridge and they should keep for five days.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Ideally, you can slice it up and keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Pineapple

How to Store: If it’s whole, keep it on the countertop and it will keep for five days. But if it’s sliced, you should keep it in the fridge.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Cover it in plastic wrap.

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Strawberries

How to Store: Just like blueberries, you should get rid of any gross-looking berries first, then store them in perforated container (like the one they came in). 

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The takeaways from the EWG are quite apparent.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that strawberries contained nearly 8 pesticides per sample. That's more than any other sample of produce, which contained 2.3 pesticides per sample, in comparison. Scientists found that nearly 30% of strawberries had residues of more than 10 pesticides, with the "dirtiest" linked to 21 different pesticides.

If that doesn't deter you enough to eat organic strawberries, scientists found traces of poisonous gas on strawberries as well. These included mostly Carbendazim and Bifenthrin, which was found on 33% of the strawberry samples. These harmful chemicals have been associated with a variety of health issues, including cancer, developmental and reproductive damage, and neurological problems.

Related: Best and worst vegetables for you:

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Best and worst vegetables for you
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Best and worst vegetables for you

Avoid: Potatoes 

Studies show that potatoes are "pure sugar" once they enter your system. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, potatoes are responsible for a surge in blood sugar and insulin --- it has the same effect as a can of Cola or candy. 

Eat sparingly: Squash

Like potatoes, squash is a starch vegetable. 1 cup of butternut squash has 11 grams of carbohydrate and more than 40 calories, but is considered a healthier choice than potatoes. Nutritionists advise patients to be careful when eating squash as it can quickly put you "over your carb limit too quickly". 

Eat Sparingly: Eggplant 

Eggplant should be avoided by patients with digestive issues. Says the author of "Eat Dirt", "They contain alkaloids, which protects them from bugs and molds [when they’re growing in the field]. Unfortunately, these chemicals can trigger digestive issues.” Additionally, they possess high carbohydrate levels. 

Some studies have linked eggplant to inflammation and arthritis. Furthermore, researchers advise patients who are prone to kidney stones to avoid the vegetable.

Eat sparingly: Beets

Beets are known for reducing dementia risk and increasing endurance for athletes. But beets have also been linked to kidney stones and gout because they are high in oxalate. This includes patients with gallbladder problems.

Eat sparingly: Bell peppers

Like eggplants and potatoes, peppers are part of the Nightshade family. Bell peppers are believed to cause a buildup of inflammation in the body. 

Eat more: Tomatoes

Whether you consider it a fruit or vegetable, tomatoes are a great source of nutrients and vitamins. It's an "outstanding" source of Lycopene and antioxidants.

A study found that tomatoes were beneficiary in helping patients suffering from Osteoporosis and is an important food for bone health. 

Eat more: Carrots 

Carrots are known for decreasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. Even better, cooked carrots may provide increased benefits than raw carrots. 

A 10-year study out of the Netherlands revealed that fruits and vegetables with deeper shades of orange and yellow are "most protective" against cardiovascular disease. 

Eat more: Bok Choy

There's a reason ancient Chinese loved this bitter vegetable. It's so good for you! Bok Choy is low in calories but high in nutrients like calcium fiber and zinc. According to WebMD, one cup of bok choy (cooked) equates to more than 100% of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin A. 

Eat more: Kale

It's still the latest superfoods Kale is low in calories and high in fiber, as well as numerous antioxidants. The vegetable is also known for being heart-healthy and lowering cholesterol. A 12-week study that tested the impact of kale juice on men with high cholesterol found favorable results and lowered their risk of "developing coronary disease". 

Eat more: Asparagus

Sure, it's known to make your pee smell and your kids definitely put up a fight, but asparagus is well known for its amazing health benefits. It's packed with vitamins and minerals, low in calorie and fat. Patients looking to lose weight will find asparagus is one of the most beneficial vegetables. 

It's also been scientifically proven that asparagus cures hangovers. "These results provide evidence of how the biological functions of asparagus can help alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells," said a researcher at the Institute of Medical Science and Jeju National University in Korea.

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In light of this report, nutritionists are advising their clients to "shop smart".

"I believe that this is an important source of information," said Corinne Bush to CNN. Consequently, the EWG says that buyers should look for organic produce.

"Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential no matter how they're grown, but for the items with the heaviest pesticide loads, we urge shoppers to buy organic. If you can't buy organic, the Shopper's Guide will steer you to conventionally grown produce that is the lowest in pesticides," said EWG analyst Sonya Lunder.

You can find more information on the report here.

Related: Best and worst meats for you:

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The 10 Best Meats And The 10 Worst Ones
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The 10 Best Meats And The 10 Worst Ones

The Best

It's important to know your health priorities when selecting the proper meat. There are meats you can enjoy that won't affect your cholesterol or send your sodium levels through the roof. Read on to learn more.

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Pork Tenderloin

While pork can definitely be considered a heavy food, lean cuts of pork can be pretty nutrient rich and even low in calories. A three ounce serving of pork tenderloin has 122 calories and three grams of fat.

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Buffalo

Buffalo (also known as bison) can be a great healthy alternative to red meat like steak or beef. The taste of buffalo is comparable to that of more common red meats and it has half as much fat and fewer calories.

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Roast Beef

If you can’t bear to give up deli meats, which are notorious for nitrates, then roast beef is your best bet. It’s leaner than most deli meats, lower in saturated fat and offers about seven grams of protein per slice.

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Chicken

Chicken can be an exceptionally lean meat and impressively low in saturated fat when consumed without the skin. Chicken is also filled with nutrients like selenium, vitamin B6 and Vitamin B3. Traditionally white meat has been lauded as the healthier part of the chicken, but while white meat is lower in calories, dark meat contains more zinc and B vitamins than white meat does. Did you know that chicken can actually be a natural anti-depressant as well?

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Ostrich

Ostrich is another great choice for those trying to eat less red meat but who still crave the taste. It’s technically poultry and actually contains half the fat of chicken with 2.8 grams in comparison with chicken’s 7.4. A three-ounce serving has 123 calories and over 24 grams of protein.

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Turkey

It’s not Thanksgiving without turkey and the good news is that you don’t even have to feel guilty about enjoying it! A four-ounce serving of white meat turkey without the skin has 158 calories and 34 grams of protein. Turkey is also filled with vitamins B3 and B6 in addition to maintaining a low saturated fat content.

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Pheasant

Pheasant is another type of bird that has a lot of nutrients and not too many calories. Enjoying this one with the skin is a bit more fattening, but at least there are a lot of minerals in the bird to make up for it.

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Lamb Shank

This meat comes from the shank half of the lamb and if it's very well trimmed it can be a reasonably healthy meat to enjoy. A lean three-ounce serving of lamb shank has about 153 calories and under six grams of fat. This size serving of lamb shank also contains about 50 percent of the daily recommended intake of zinc for women and 36 percent for men.

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Veal

Yes, veal has more cholesterol than beef. However, if you enjoy leaner cuts of veal like sirloin you'll be consuming 150 calories or less per three-ounce serving.

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Pork Chop

A boneless pork chop has about 147 calories per serving and 23 grams of protein. The sodium levels are also pretty low on this meat.

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The Worst

Try to consume these meats in moderation since their nutritional profile isn't as impressive.

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Corned Beef

Corned beef is generally made of the fattier areas of brisket, which should give you a pretty good image of its health profile. It has 16 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat and 960 mg of sodium, not to mention nitrates. Savor this meat on special occasions.

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Prosciutto

Even if it seems light and thin, just a two-ounce serving of prosciutto contains over 10 grams of fat and four grams of that fat is unhealthy saturated fat. In addition to its unsavory fat content, prosciutto is also salted, which makes the sodium content a whopping 973 mg per serving when the daily recommended limit is 1500 mg. Enjoy this one sparingly.

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Ham

When eating ham spring for the leaner versions because it is a high fat food. A three-ounce serving of boneless roasted ham has 7.7 grams of fat with 2.7 grams made up of saturated fat.

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Salami

If you want to knock out 17 percent of your daily recommended sodium intake with one slice, then try salami. Of the six grams of fat in that slice, two are saturated fat. Savor this one on special occasions.

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Bacon

It's a shame that such a popular food isn't very nutritionally beneficial since it is both high in sodium and saturated fat. Try sprinkling bacon on dishes as a condiment instead, or give turkey bacon a shot.

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Bologna

This classic lunch meat is definitely one that should be enjoyed sporadically. One slice contains 300 mg of sodium and 3 grams of saturated fat.

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Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are a very common processed meat. Processed meats can contain nitrates and are frequently high in sodium.

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Mortadella

Roughly two ounces of mortadella contain 14 grams of fat and 560 mg of sodium. That's 23 percent of your daily recommended intake of sodium.

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Chicken Nuggets

This childhood staple is sadly not very healthy. Sometimes chicken nuggets contain very little chicken and the ingredients that end up in a nugget can be icky. Plus the signature breaded exterior only adds calories. Your best bet is to make your own chicken nuggets from scratch.

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Duck

Duck actually has a lot of nutrients in it, but if it's not prepared properly it becomes a very fattening meal. Try to keep the duck lean by cooking it skinless, trimming the fat and not using a lot of oil. Of the six grams of fat in a serving, there are 2.3 grams of saturated fat, so there's no need to add more.

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