Impact to Nutrients of Storing Food
Did you know that the way food is stored changes its nutritional value? That's right. With the exception of fresh produce found in your local farmer's market, virtually all food you consume has been altered from its original state. These alterations may remove some of the beneficial vitamins and nutrients from foods. Learn about nutrient deterioration below.
Even if you purchased fresh locally-grown produce, storing it in your refrigerator changes its nutritional value. Immediately after they are picked, fruits and vegetables start losing some of those vitamins. Cold storage in a fridge will slow the decay of produce like berries, spinach, and potatoes. However, with each passing day, leafy greens like spinach lose essential nutrients like folate and Vitamin C. Keep your fridge below 40 degrees F for best results.
In some cases, frozen fruits or vegetables are more nutritious than fresh produce that has lingered in the fridge for days. Frozen food is typically allowed to fully ripen and then frozen soon after harvesting, retaining much of the vitamins and minerals. In comparison, fresh produce—especially that not grown locally—will have come from far away, often passing its peak stage, then sitting in your local grocery store before it gets to you. On the other hand, the presence of oxygen in bags of frozen food can cause some of the nutrients to deteriorate.
Canning involves exposing foods to pressure, chemical additives, and heat. The initial encounter with heat makes the food lose nutritional value, but since cans don't have oxygen, the nutrients tend to stay where they are until the can is opened. The cooking process, however, causes further nutrient deterioration.
Although dried foods last longer, the process of dehydration removes a great deal of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. On the flip side, drying foods can concentrate the fiber in plant foods making them even healthier in that regard.
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