Saturday, March 25

The 7 Foods It’s Best Not to Reheat (More Than Once)

When it comes to cooking and eating, it’s best to eat food immediately after cooking, which is when it’s freshest and most likely tastes best too. However, it’s not always like that.

Leftovers are a lifesaver for many occasions, plus they’re a great way to avoid food waste. But we must know how to handle and treat them, in addition to knowing how to overheat them to avoid two main problems: loss of nutrients and the risk of food poisoning.

The British Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends that food is reheated only once. Because the quality of a food decreases every time it is reheated and, in addition, the risk of food poisoning increases.

Loss of nutrients, the big reason

One of the main problems with reheating certain foods is the loss of vitamins, especially B and C. Vitamin C tends to break down during any heating process, so if you choose to reheat a food rich in this vitamin, it is best is to do it in the microwave because the cooking time is less than an ovenfor example.

In addition, vitamin C is more sensitive to heat than other water-soluble vitamins and antioxidants, hence more content is lost when leftovers are reheated.

Some of the foods that lose the most nutrients are:

  • Broccoli and kale: These green vegetables contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two powerful antioxidants. Reheating these foods decreases the potency of these nutrients.
  • Meat: reheating the meat often leads us to dry it out and, as a general rule, to reduce the quality of the food, especially due to the loss of vitamin B12. The more we reheat the meat, the drier and less flavorful it will be.
  • Whole grains and legumes: Cooking destroys many of the enzymes that these foods contain and that our bodies need to perform many bodily functions, including digestion. Although the body produces metabolic enzymes, food provides enough nutrients so that the body does not run out.
  • Mushrooms: in addition to the fact that reheating them increases the risk of deterioration, the proteins that this fungus contains are very easily destroyed by heating.

It must be taken into account that the more times we reheat a food, not only will it lose more nutrients, but it will also begin to lose its organoleptic properties.

Every cooking technique (frying, boiling, microwave, etc.) produces a kind of “inner revolution” in food that can alter its texture, flavor, appearance and, above all, its nutritional value.

Risk of poisoning

Another reason why it is advisable not to reheat food more than once is for food safety reasons. Some of the highest risk foods are:

  • Spinach: spinach and other green leafy vegetables can contain high concentrations of nitrate which, while harmless on its own, can be converted to nitrites and then nitrosamines. The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) advises avoiding overheating vegetables if they have already been cooked before because it increases the proportion of nitrites.
  • Rice: although it can be reheated, should never be done more than oncewarns again the British Food Standards Agency (FSA). When we do it we must make sure that it is completely hot. It is also important that leftover rice is chilled as quickly as possible (within the next hour).

The problem with reheating rice is not so much with the food itself but with the way it has been stored before. Therefore, it is important to keep it in the fridge before it is reheated. As we explained in this article, the longer the rice is left at room temperature, the more risk there is of survival of spores of the bacteria. bacillus cereuswhich can survive if cooked at temperatures below 100ºC and can cause food poisoning.

  • Chicken: One of the main causes of food poisoning is caused by the bacteria Salmonella, present especially in foods such as spoiled chicken. Improper cooking of chicken increases the risk of salmonellosis. When reheating in the microwave we must make sure that it is heated evenly with the help of a lid and that there are no pink parts.

In general, it must be taken into account that some microorganisms such as Staphylococcus aureus or E.coli They are heat stable, so they don’t go inactive when food is heated again.

The Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN) advises, when reheating food, to reach at least the 70ºC for a minimum of 15 seconds and, in line with the British agency, avoid multiple overheating that increases the risk of poisoning.

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