Whether in the pantry for months or the refrigerator for a few days, certain foods lose their nutritional value more quickly than many people realize. Keeping this in mind while menu-planning and shopping will ensure that the foods your meals are packing the nutritional punch you expect.
1. Con on the cob
Corn on the cob should be eaten as quickly as possible after picking. According to Cheat Sheet, half of the corn’s natural sugars are devoured by enzymes within three days, leaving kernels that won’t make you sick, but definitely won’t have that farm-fresh flavor.
2. Green tea
Green tea is a great source of antioxidants known as catechins, but these break down with exposure to light and oxygen, reports Women’s Health. About a third of the antioxidants will be gone within six months, so it’s best to drink the tea as soon as possible.
Rice, macaroni, and other grain foods begin to lose their vitamin value within a day of exposure to sunlight — store these foods in a dark, dry pantry or container away from heat. Steady Health advises that brown rice is particularly sensitive to heat and is the exception that should be stored in the refrigerator.
4. Packaged greens
Keep a close eye on the “use by” date of packaged greens, advises Cheat Sheet. Even with several days to go, its airtight packaging may be causing the greens to get slimy. To prevent this, transfer the greens to a storage container lined with paper towels.
5. Berry jams
Health-boosting flavonoids in berry jams — with their anti-inflammatory and memory-boosting effects — begin to deteriorate after a few months in storage. Storing the unopened jars in the refrigerator can slow down this process.
The nutritional benefits of spices also decline after exposure to light and air. “Generally, spices that should be bright in color but have grown dull are also devoid of flavor and nutritional value,” Jay Bunting, owner of Wayzata Bay Spice Company, told Women’s Health. Reduce this problem by purchasing spices in whole form if possible, and storing them in glass containers instead of plastic.
7. Tomato products
The lycopene in tomato products is great for fighting cancer and benefiting the health of our eyes, heart and brain, reports Steady Health, but unfortunately these benefits begin to disappear after about three months. Store your sauces, pastes, ketchup and tomatoes in a dark location and consume as quickly as possible.
To avoid problems with these foods, make purchases in quantities small enough to ensure quick consumption. When you purchase an item that you already have — tomato products, for example — store them in such a way that you will always reach for the oldest product first.