How To Maximize The Nutrients In Produce!

Do you know how to properly store your produce when you bring it home from the store or market? What about the best preparation method? Fridge or counter? Raw or steamed? Here are a few practical tips that will keep your produce at its maximum nutritional value.

Most people aren’t really sure the best methods, falling back instead on what their mother or father did while growing up or taking an educated (or best) guess. Fear not, as science has addressed these questions by digging up answers that may go against what you’ve been doing all along and standard conventional beliefs.

Maximize the nutrition you get from pears by letting them get super ripe before biting into them. Ripe pears have increased levels of antioxidants according to a 2007 study by Muller et al in the journal Angwandte Chemie International Edition England (1). To determine if your pear is ripe enough, press on its neck to see if it gives a little, your finger will gently sink in.

If you’re like me, you probably store your melons in the refrigerator when you bring them home. However, not all melons should be chilled. The U.S Department of Agriculture has found that you can appreciably boost the nutrient value of watermelons by keeping them out of the fridge. Indeed, the department’s research found that beta-carotene levels increased by nearly 140% when watermelon was stored at room temperature (2). Other melons, including cantaloupe and honeydew, seemed to experience no further nutrient gains whether chilled or not.

I love fresh blueberries, but it’s not something I can access year-round in a cold-weather climate – or the prices are astronomical and it’s not really so fresh, is it? I often rely on frozen berries and wonder if they impart equal nutrition to their fresher counterparts. Turns out – they do! In fact, a report by Leatherhead Food Research, found that concentrations of vitamin C and polyphenols in frozen samples were comparable to fresh berries before being stored in the fridge & higher than fresh berries in the fridge for over 3 days (3). Thus, if you’re worried that choosing frozen produce means a loss of nutrients, think again, as it helps to retain nutrient value.

Avocados seem to be all the rage these days on blogs and sites reputing it’s deliciousness and heart-healthy MUFA fats benefits (think lowered cholesterol and blood pressure). These nutrient dynamos can be stored on your counter until ripened and cut. But, how do you keep its glowing greenness from turning to a dirty grey-brown? Author and cook Dana Velden suggests on The Kitchn (4) that you can avoid this by placing the cut avocado in an airtight container with a piece of onion and then keeping it in the fridge. It should stay good for a few days by this method – unless you like to eat your avocados quicker



1) Muller et al. Colorless Tetrapyrrolic chlorophyll catabolites found in ripening fruit are effective antioxidants. Ange Chem Int Ed Engl; 2007; 46(45).
2) Perkins-Veazie, P & Collins, JK. Carotenid changes of intact watermelons after storage. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2006.
3) Leatherhead-Chester-Antioxidant-Reports: University of Chester: Client Technical Report.
4) Dana Velden; The Best Way to Keep Cut Avocado Fresh; The Kitchn.

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