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Seven unhealthy kitchen mistakes

February 27, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
There are things almost everyone does in the kitchen that rob food of some of its nutrition.No matter how many publications we read on health, it's easy to get mixed up about food. How we shop and cook can make or break its goodness, but don't worry, all the challenges you see are easily solved.

1. Loading up just once a week at the market

Grocery shopping once a week saves time and money, but the longer produce sits, the less nutrients retained. Spinach loses half its folate and 60 percent of its antioxidant lutein in seven days. Broccoli loses over 60 percent of its flavonoids in 10 days. If shopping twice weekly is unrealistic, buy frozen that retains nutrients up to a year.

2. Buying certain foods in clear containers

Buying or storing food in clear containers is another mistake. Known as photo-oxidation, milk in jugs loses many nutrients, so consider cardboard cartons instead. Grains also break down in clear containers, so put them in opaque containers and store them in the dark.

3. Skimping on spices

Skimping on seasoning is another culinary sin. Herbs and spices enhance flavor and protect against food-borne bacteria. The higher the antioxidant value, the greater its ability to fight. Experts say cloves, cinnamon, and oregano are some of the best. Think about adding rosemary, thyme, nutmeg and bay leaves into your diet as well. One suggestion to boost antioxidants is to add ½ a teaspoon of herbs or spices to salads, vegetables or meats to help fight disease.

4. Peeling produce

Peeling produce with edible skin is another mistake. Peels offer 27 times the antioxidants than the pulp. Scrub 'em up and keep the skin on for better health. Think about eggplant, bell pepper, peaches, apples, nectarines, even kiwi sliced thin with skins on.

5. Boiling away the best nutrients

Think about microwaving rather than boiling vegetables, as this technique results in a loss of 90 percent of the nutrients. Microwaving in a scant amount of water spares them along with stir-frying.

6. Failing to pair proteins properly

While pairing protein with certain foods is often overlooked, combining a vitamin C food with a protein containing iron ups the absorption considerably. Alternatively, drinking tea or coffee can block iron by 60 percent when eaten with a meal, so watch out.

7. Eating dirty produce

Finally, the rule on washing produce: You have to wash all of it, not just lettuce. Avocados, oranges, and bananas all need washing because you don't know where it's been or who's touched it. The bacteria on the outside of the food ends up on your hands, which leads to contamination.

 

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