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Pasteurization: What It Means and How It Changes Food

Recent Advances of Pasteurization

It now is able to disinfect food and inactivate soilage enzymes without significantly diminishing nutrient levels, this includes both thermal and non-thermal processes.

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Fresh food nutrients
Fresh food nutrients

Food is most nutritious at the point of harvest. After that, fresh produce starts degrading.

Once picked, that fruit or veg is using its own nutrients to keep its cells alive. Vitamin C fou...

Refrigerating produce

Refrigeration slows down the process of nutrition degradation. The nutritional loss varies from product to product.

Spinach loses 100% of its vitamin C content in seven days at room temperature and 75% if refrigerated. Carrots lose 27% of their vitamin C content when stored at room temperature for a week.

However, when vegetables are frozen, including spinach, they lose significantly less vitamin C, because freezing pauses the process of oxidization.

Frozen foods nutrients

As soon as produce is harvested, it's a nutritional race against time.

Frozen produce has one problem: before it's frozen, it's blanched - heating food up for a few minutes at high temperatures to inactivate enzymes that degrade texture and color. Blanching also reduces nutrient content.

There is no "best diet"

The “best” diet is a theme: an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and plain water for thirst. 

That can be with or without seafood; with or...

Best foods don’t have labels

Because they are just one ingredient: avocado, lentils, blueberries, broccoli, almonds, etc.

The "Age" of vegetables
The best vegetables are likely to be fresh and locally sourced, but flash frozen is nearly as good (as freezing delays aging). Those “fresh” vegetables that spend a long time in storage or transit are probably the least nutritious.
The debates around microwave cooking

When used correctly, there’s nothing to worry about in terms of a microwave’s radiation, according to the World Health Organization.

But other concerns are less cl...

Microwave cooking and nutrients

There’s no simple answer as to whether microwaving vegetables will retain more nutrients that any other method, because each food is different in terms of the texture and nutrients they contain.

Studies show that shorter cooking times tend to not compromise nutritional content. Steaming and microwaving could even increase content of most flavonoids, which are compounds linked to reduced risk of heart disease.

Microwaving and heating plastic
  • We often microwave foods in plastic containers and wrapping and this comes wit a risk: the risk of ingesting phthalates. When exposed to heat, these plastic additives can break down and leach into food.
  • Phthalates are common (in toys and body lotions for example) and it’s still unclear just how much damage they do. But most experts agree that heating plastic with phthalates can increase exposure.
  • The best way to avoid this is to use other microwave-safe materials than plastic, such as ceramic. If you do use plastic containers, avoid any that are losing their shape, since old and damaged containers are more likely to leach chemicals.