How Long Do Fruits and Vegetables Retain Their Nutrients?
Nutrients in fruits and vegetables start to break down after harvest. This loss of nutrients can be minimized by proper storage or processing. Frozen, canned, dried, and 100 percent juice products are processed just after harvesting to “lock in” the freshness of just-picked produce. Fresh fruits and vegetables are picked, packed, and distributed to stores very quickly so that you get the freshest items available. After purchase, proper storage and handling of fruits and vegetables will help retain nutrients.
Tips for storing fruits and vegetables include:
- Limit storage time. Fresh is best when it comes to taste and nutrition.
- Store fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator to slow spoilage. However tomatoes are an exception. Their flavor is destroyed in the refrigerator. Hold them a room temperature. If you want to store produce items for a longer time, consider freezing them.
- Cook minimally. Steam vegetables briefly until just crisp-tender. Water-soluble nutrients are destroyed with prolonged cooking time.
- Avoid slicing vegetables too far in advance. When fruits and vegetables are sliced, the cut surface is exposed to heat, light and oxygen – the nutrient destroyers. It is better to wait and slice foods just before cooking and serving.