Proper storage supports your smile
There’s nothing like the crunch of a crisp carrot and a juicy apple, or the refreshing feeling you get from eating leafy greens and celery. The problem is that fresh fruits and veggies can sometimes spoil before you have a chance to enjoy them.
Luckily, there are ways to keep your fruits and veggies fresh longer or to revive some once they start to wilt. This gives you more time to enjoy them and support your oral and overall health.
A diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fresh fruit and vegetables can help prevent gum disease.
Proper storage supports your smile
An easy way to extend the lifespan of your fruits and vegetables is to store them at the right temperature. What’s “right” can vary from item to item, so here are quick reminders for some of the most popular produce items in the United States.
Room temperature is best for produce that is susceptible to cold damage or will lose flavor in the fridge. This includes:
Fruits such as bananas, peaches, pears, uncut melons, and kiwis.
Vegetables such as avocado, garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, and squash.
Taking proper care of these foods gives you more opportunity to consume nutrition that protects your oral health. For instance, onions and garlic have antibacterial and antimicrobial qualities that help prevent gum disease, while fruits such as apples and pears can stimulate saliva to neutralize acids that cause tooth decay.
Refrigeration will extend the life of other produce, however. Products that benefit from colder storage include:
Fruits such as apples, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cherries.
Vegetables such as peas, celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms, bell peppers, and light and dark leafy greens.
Storing fruits and vegetables at the right temperature gives you more time to enjoy them, so they can help keep your teeth and gums strong:
Leafy greens provide a calcium boost and berries are rich in vitamin C that keeps your gums healthy and strengthens dentin, the soft layer of tissue underneath your tooth enamel.
Crunchy foods like carrots and celery help you produce more saliva, which washes away leftover food.
When you place produce in the fridge, it’s best to use separate, reusable plastic or stainless-steel containers. This prevents accidental spoilage, as some fruits (like peaches and pears) can accelerate the breakdown of some vegetables (lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower, for example).
How to restore fruits and veggies
With the right conditions and a little loving care, you can help your produce get back on its feet. Below, you’ll find a few examples of how you can restore your eatables before they’re inedible.
1. Trim the trouble spots: If parts of your vegetables can be saved, cut off the offending areas and keep the rest.
2. Soak them in water: You’ll be surprised how many vegetables can be revived by submerging them in a bowl of cold, clean water until they crispen up. This can work for carrots, celery, bell peppers, and light and dark leafy greens.
3. Pat dry: Keep checking your produce, and once it is refreshed, you should remove them from the bowl and pat them dry. Otherwise, the moisture will stop being helpful and start to make them soggy.
Fruit can be a little trickier to revive because soaking most fruits in water will only make them mushy and moldy. But you can find other uses for them. Two easy examples:
1. Overripe bananas are perfect for many healthy muffin recipes and they provide magnesium, which helps your body absorb calcium more efficiently.
1. Vitamin C-rich berries can be pureed into a delicious and nutritious smoothie.
If an item of food is moldy throughout, discolored, or giving off an unpleasant odor, it is likely beyond saving and should be thrown out to avoid a foodborne illness.
Give your produce a little TLC
Healthy produce supports healthy teeth and gums, too. The examples above are just a few ways you can keep your food and your smile fresh, but the important thing to remember is that properly stored (or revived) fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrition that can protect your oral and overall health!