Pre-packaged mixes of vegetables are a lifesaver when you live alone or are on the go. They make eating healthy easy; they are affordable and highly beneficial to your diet, right? Health experts have, however, drawn attention to how these otherwise genius creations can have adverse effects on your health.
It is commonly reiterated that every meal should be an equal fraction of vegetables and proteins. That seems like too much to ask for, especially when you're at work and need a quick refuelling.
That is why many people label bags of pre-washed salad leaves a genius addition to the food industry. But, experts think otherwise.
Bagged salads typically look vibrant making you convinced that you'll be getting a load of nutrients from them. But, that is actually rarely the case as many contain very little nutritional benefits due to processing and storage methods.
Vegetables start to lose their nutritional value the moment they are harvested. While some (e.g. carrots and apples) can retain their nutrients for months, many others, especially those of thin and delicate leaves, can't.
In addition, pre-packaged salads are bagged along with a mixture of gasses known as modified atmosphere which keeps them looking fresh and lasting for up to a week.
If you check the back of bagged leaves, you'll find something like “packaged in a protective atmosphere”. But, while that sounds good, it really doesn't help protect the nutrients. This is why you'll observe that such salad leaves quickly wilt after the bag is opened.
This means that you're never going to get enough nutrients from bagged salads, and unfortunately, you wouldn't even know that you aren't!
Salad leaves are pre-washed in chlorine before packaging. However, this doesn't make them automatically fit for consumption straight out of the bag. This is because factories that make the said salad leaves only wash them in an industrial bath of water mixed with chlorine that isn’t changed for hours.
This not only lowers the nutritional value of the salad leaves, it means that the leaves may still harbour harmful microbes.
Thus, the warning from Professor Pennington, an expert of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, that pre-washed salads are one of the products most likely to cause food poisoning. He says:
“It is generally safer to eat a burger than the salad that goes with it.”