Turns out, how you store and prepare your fruits and vegetables can make a huge difference when it comes to reaping the health benefits. While the majority of supermarkets nowadays flog pre-cut and packaged fruits and vegetables as convenient solutions, Dr Vincent Candrawinata, founder of health and wellness company Renovatio, believes you’re better off purchasing fruits and vegetables in their natural state.
“The easiest and best way to boost your diet – and has always been – is to avoid cutting, slicing, chopping or peeling fruits and vegetables,” he says.
Not sure where to start? Dr Vincent has outlined five easy steps to make sure you’re getting the most out of your fruits and vegetables.
Dr Vincent believes the most effective way to store fruits and vegetables is to leave them unwashed with the peel intact. While not pre-cutting your product is ideal, if you need to, he says to ensure they are stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
“The nutrients that suffer the heaviest hit in cut fruits and vegetables are vitamins C, A, and E,” he explains. “These vitamins are antioxidants, which means when the internal flesh is exposed to air the vitamins actually decline. The peels and natural coverings of fruits and vegetables offer protection to the vitamins inside.”
Dr Vincent adds you also run the risk of “quite literally pouring vitamins down the drain” by rinsing cut fruits and vegetables, explaining that: “Water-soluble vitamins, like vitamin C, are carried by water and can leak out after cutting or in water.”
When it comes to cutting up your produce, Dr Vincent says keeping a sharp knife for fruits and vegetables is a must, explaining that a blunt knife can cause unnecessary and unwanted damage to your fresh fruits and vegetables.
“With a sharp knife, you will decrease the risk of excessive softening, bacterial growth, off-odours and electrolyte leakage — such as calcium and potassium — in your fruits and vegetables,” he says.
Dr Vincent says, while it’s best to buy fresh, if you prefer pre-cut fruits and vegetables and you won’t be making the swap anytime soon there are some simple steps you can take to ensure you aren’t missing out on any key health benefits. First things first, he recommends buying the freshest product you can find, saying: “Time plays an important role in nutrient loss.”
Dr Vincent also advises only buying pre-cut produce that has been refrigerated and eating any pre-cut vegetables within five to six days and fruits in two to three days.
“Pre-cut produce can be a convenient solution for an on-the-go snack or meal that day, however, they are not the best for long-term storage,” he adds.
Dr Vincent also recommends looking for fruits and vegetables that have been cut into the largest chunks as these pieces will have been affected the least by respiration.
If you’re cutting your fruits and veggies at home, Dr Vincent says to cut them in large chunks with a sharp knife, saying the less you tamper with them, the better. Not to mention, aside from retaining more nutrients, they’ll also last much longer, and it’s safe to say no one enjoys throwing away good food!
“A general rule to follow is the more finely your fresh [fruits and] vegetables are chopped, the more quickly you should eat them,” he explains.
According to The Australian Dietary Guidelines, you should be aiming for at least two fruits and five veggies per day, but if that’s not doable for you, Dr Vincent recommends giving your diet a boost and incorporating some good-for-you phenolic antioxidant supplements into your diet.
“It’s common for our diet not to deliver our body with all the micronutrients and antioxidants it needs — supplements can be the answer and have beneficial effects on your nutrition and overall health,” he says.
This article was originally published on October 17, 2020, and has been updated on September 28, 2023.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.