While running water over an apple or washing a handful of grapes before consuming your recommended two servings of fruit per day is likely second nature, you might be skipping the rinse on this beloved super food.
Don’t let their thick skin fool you—avocados need to be rinsed before they’re eaten. That’s because lingering bacteria and pesticides sprayed on the peel can make their way to the fruit.
Avocados' bumpy skin shields the fruit from being penetrated by pesticides. But that texture also locks in unwanted bacteria and chemicals to the fruit’s surface—meaning when you slice it open, your clean knife immediately comes in contact with whatever is remaining on the skin, which is easily transferred onto your breakfast.
According to Business Insider, the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recommends washing avocados in cold or lukewarm water and giving the super food a bit of a scrub before peeling and eating.
It’s not just avocados that need to be rinsed before eating. Indeed all fruit with inedible peels—bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, grapefruit—should be rinsed clean before consumption. Washing produce is one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce the risk of bacteria that can cause food poisoning, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In addition to bacteria, pesticides found often in fruits and vegetables have been linked to different kinds of cancer and shown to disrupt the endocrine system. According to a trio of studies published in 2011 — by researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the University of California-Berkeley's Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health, and the Heilbrunn Center for Population and Family Health — found that children exposed to pesticides in utero have lower IQs and poorer conceptual reasoning skills.
Pesticides are widely used is food production to protect crops from bacteria, mold, insects, and rodents. American crop producers use more than 500 million pounds of pesticides each year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Even after they’ve been washed and peeled, the majority of produce still contains traces of at least one pesticide, the Environmental Working Group reports.
Those looking to steer clear of pesticides entirely can buy organic avocados, if they’re willing to throw down a little extra cash. But even if you’re going organic, you still need to rinse off that avocado before eating it. Even if it’s not covered in pesticides, there’s a good chance it’s caked with dirt and bacteria.