Real, living food is perishable.  We’ve learned to sacrifice nutrition for convenience, but this has been a major mistake for our health.  

All vegetables should be consumed as soon as possible, as they all start to lose their nutrients and antioxidants as soon as they’re harvested, but some vegetables are more perishable than others.  The most sensitive vegetables also happen to be among the world’s healthiest vegetables. The reason for the nutrient loss is that harvested plants use their stored nutrients to fight off starvation and oxidation. Unfortunately, the nutrients they use to survive are the same nutrients that provide incredible health benefits for humans.  With this in mind, consider posting the list below on your fridge as a reminder to eat up your recent purchases.

Vegetables to Eat Right Away:

  • Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, and cabbage (when cut)
  • Mushrooms: Crimini, shitake, white button, etc.
  • Leafy greens: spinach, lettuce, arugula, chard, beet tops
  • Herbs: parsley, basil, cilantro
  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes
  • Green beans

Additional Tips to Maximize Your Vegetables’ Nutritional Value:

  • Many store-bought vegetables have already been cut off from their life-source for 2-4 days before being purchased (due to transportation and sitting on the shelf). Purchase fresher vegetables by shopping at a locals farmers market, growing your own vegetables, or asking your grocer what vegetables came in on the most recent shipment.
  • Most vegetables loose their nutrients when cooked.  Eat your vegetables as raw as possible or lightly steamed.  Microwaving is OK as long as you don’t overcook them and use a microwaving steaming method.  
  • If you’ve chopped your vegetables up, be sure to store them in a airtight container and consume as quickly as possible. Exposing cut vegetables to air for prolonged periods increased their oxidation. 
  • Chopping leafy greens immediately before consuming, however, does make more nutrients available for absorption.  Cut your lettuce, cabbage, or dark greens into small strips 10 minutes before eating to maximize nutrient release.

References: Maximizing the Nutritional Value of Fruits and Vegetables, Eating on the Wild Side NPR Interview

Originally posted 2013-08-19 09:00:46.


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