Ugly Fruits and Vegetables – Are They Safe?

Grocery shoppers tend to avoid fruits and vegetables that have odd shapes or unappealing spots. As a result, many tons of edible food go uneaten and wasted.

Although it’s true that bacteria can cause blemishes on produce, that doesn’t necessarily mean that blemished produce is unsafe to eat. “Ugly” fruits and vegetables are usually tasty and healthful. They provide the same—in some cases, more—nutrients as their more attractive cousins.

Several studies have shown some imperfect fruit and vegetables have higher amounts of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are naturally occurring plant chemicals that give produce its color and flavor. Phytochemicals may also protect us from cancer and heart disease.

So go ahead and eat ugly produce! It usually costs less because of its appearance. The nutrients it gives you, though, are priceless to your health.

Source: Today’s Dietitian (

Phytochemicals–They’re Good for You

In addition to vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals, which are compounds providing color, aroma, texture and flavor to plant-based foods. Phytochemicals help reduce the risk of many diseases.

More than 2,000 phytochemicals are plant pigments, which provide a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Just remember, the darker the color, the more phytochemicals and health benefits of a fruit or vegetable. For example, spinach will have more phytochemicals and health benefits than iceberg lettuce.

Color Phytochemical Health Benefit Examples
Red Lycopene May reduce the risk of prostate cancer Tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, berries, cherries, red apples, beets, red cabbage
Orange/Yellow Beta Carotene Reduces risk for heart disease; boosts immune system; helps maintain good eyesight Apricots, pumpkin, mangos, sweet potatoes, oranges
Blue/Purple Anthocyanins May help reduce risk of heart disease and gastrointestinal track cancer; anti-inflammatory properties Blueberries, eggplant, plums, raisins, purple grapes
White Allicin May help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reducing risk of heart disease; may reduce risk of stomach cancer Garlic, onions, leeks
White Sulphoraphane Possible role in inhibiting cancer growth Cauliflower, jicama, parsnips, banana
Green Lutein May help reduce risk for cataracts and age-related macular degeneration Spinach, kale, peas, Brussels sprouts, kiwifruit, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, green grapes

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