Fruit and vegetables are two of the healthiest food groups you can eat; they are full of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Unfortunately, as soon as they are picked, they begin to lose their nutritional value - that is why it is best to eat them as soon as possible after buying. Of course, this is not always possible, so here are a few tips on how to keep the nutrients in your fruit and veg for as long as possible:
1. Don't peel your fruit and vegetables, because that is where you get many of the essential nutrients, such as fibre.
2. Avoid getting pre-prepared/packaged food from the supermarket. Food that has been washed and bagged has been exposed to the elements, and sitting on the shelves for a while, meaning it has already lost nutrients by the time you get it home.
3. Buy frozen foods or freeze the fresh food that you don't intend on using straight away. This keeps it fresh until ready to use.
Not all fruit and vegetables can be frozen though; these include cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, and onions.
4. Buy your fruit and veg on the day (or as close to) you plan on using them.
5. Be careful when washing fruit and veg. The longer it is in water, the more nutrients leak out.
6. Don't cut fruit and veg into small pieces, as it exposes a greater surface area to the air.
7. Many fruit and vegetables absorb a chemical called ethylene, which makes them decay. These include aubergine, leafy greens, carrots, beans, cucumber, peas, peppers, and potatoes.
Don't put them next to fruit that emit ethylene, such as apples, pears, bananas, melons, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
8. Raw food is best - when cooked, it starts to lose nutrients, especially when boiling. The best form of cooking is steaming, which is gentle and does not lose the nutrients.
9. Put a dry sponge in the fridge to absorb any moisture.