How Long Before Produce Loses its Nutrients After Harvest?

Fruit VegetablesFruits and vegetables contain all sorts of nutrient that contribute to keeping the body healthy. Thing is, these nutrients do not survive for a long period of time after harvest. There is a limit as to the amount of time produce stays nutritious.

Loss of Nutrient Content

You already know that fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and nutrients that prevent the onset of diseases. However, they begin to lose their nutrients within one day to a full week. Some vegetables begin to lose 15% to 55% of their vitamin C content after a week, and spinach can lose up to 90% within 24 hours after harvest. On average, produce loses nutritious content within the first three days.

The loss of nutrient content reduces the vitamins and minerals you get even if you consume a lot of produce. MorCo Fresh cites that the increasing popularity of farm to market or end consumer delivery of fruits and vegetables is the result of awareness about this quick loss of nutritious chemicals after harvest. Suppliers and farmers are making sure that their produce reaches shelves within 48 hours to retain as much value as possible.

Keep Produce Fresh

Several factors affect the freshness and value of produce after harvest, but there are way to keep nutrient content high even after a few days pass.

  1. Fresh is still the most ideal scenario when it comes to produce consumption. Limit the amount of time the fruits and vegetables spend inside the refrigerator or in a kitchen basket; try to use and prepare the produce the day of or a few days after purchase.
  2. Frozen produce is not as good as fresh, however, by keeping certain fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator, you lengthen their shelf life and retain some of the nutrients.
  3. If you are not going to eat produce immediately, refrain from slicing or cutting them in advance. Doing so exposes the produce to oxygen, light and heat — factors that hasten their spoilage.
  4. Cook produce minimally to maintain their nutrient content; the more you heat or cook them, the more vitamins and minerals they lose.
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Fresh produce provides you with several health benefits, however, they begin to lose their nutrients if you store them too long. Consume fruits and vegetables immediately to get the most out of them.