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Guidelines to keep nutrition in your pantry

September 8, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
We know things in the fridge are short lived, but did you know everything has a shelf life, including things like green tea and olive oil. Here are the things you need to know to keep nutrition in your pantry.

After six months, green tea has passed its time, with its antioxidants decreasing over 30 percent. Because it is oxygen sensitive, putting tea in airtight tins helps. Put that tin in the fridge, and it will help leaves stay fresh a lot longer. But your best bet is to buy what you would use in a few weeks time.

According to the Journal of Food Science, light and oxygen are the enemy for many of the nutrients we need, like the B-vitamin riboflavin that diminishes from grains and other dry goods by 80 percent in just 3 months. If you have a large stash, put these foods in a dark pantry.

Brown rice, which contains some oil, can be kept in the fridge to keep it from going rancid.

Spices lose their kick and their health benefits after nine months. Buying glass-jar spices rather than plastic helps because air is the enemy. Whole herbs last longer, as only the exterior portion of the spice is exposed to light and air.

Olive oil contains antioxidants that diminish after 6 months. Oil lasts longer away from light, heat and oxygen, so don't let it sit on the stove or leave it uncapped. Buy only what you need, and store it in a cool, dark cabinet.

You'll also lose the benefit of berries in jam that offer an anti-inflammatory effect even in just a few months stored in a dark cabinet. Your better bet is to store jam in the fridge even unopened.

If you like tomato products and expect to get their antioxidant benefits, use them before 90 days time to keep the lycopene you may have heard about, as it will deteriorate over time even unopened.

While many of these foods are still edible, keep in mind they won't hurt you. It's just that if they've been there too long, you're not getting the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals that you thought were on your plate.

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