Living: All that’s green is not healthy

A bright red apple is appealing to our eyes and we inadvertently buy it, thinking it is healthy. We are unaware that different additives are injected into fruits and vegetables to help the ripening process. Additives also act as artificial colourants which give the apple its characteristic bright red, the carrot its radiant orange and the broccoli its fresh green. Here are the chemicals that one needs to watch out for:

  • Malachite green: The lush green of chillies, cucumbers and peas are the result of the generous use of malachite green, a well-known carcinogen.
  • Copper sulphate: Vegetables like bottle gourd, ridge gourd, bitter gourd, beans, lady’s fingers and drumsticks are treated with copper sulphate solution. Copper sulphate is one of the basic components of fungicides and its consumption is deleterious to the liver and kidneys.
  • Rhodamine B: Another lethal carcinogen and also a major constituent of agricultural pesticides, rhodamine B, imparts the bright red hue to strawberries, cherries, sweet potatoes and apples. This chemical is a skin irritant and may cause infections.
  • Calcium carbide: Sellers often use calcium carbide, which is mostly used in steel plants, on mangoes and bananas to artificially ripen them. Carbides, apart from being carcinogenic are neurotoxic. They produce acetylene gas which can cause various neurological ailments.

(The author is a senior consultant, Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital)

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Living: All that’s green is not healthy

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