There are some picky eaters who refuse to touch a plate of leftovers, though many of us applaud the genius of the microwave and the oven to reheat last night’s dinner when we are tired or just don’t feel like cooking. But leftover junkies out there might want to sit down for this: research shows that reheating some of your favorite foods can be dangerous for your health, especially if they weren’t stored correctly.
Here’s a list of common foods that should never be reheated, and why:
Celery can become toxic if you reheat it, because celery contains nitrates that turn into nitrites after being reheated. If you’ve made soup with celery in it, you should either eat all of the soup, or remove the celery before you heat it to eat it as leftovers. Reheating it will allow it to release carcinogenic properties.
Mushrooms should be eaten the same day that they are prepared due to their complex protein content. Reheating mushrooms can change their protein composition and present a high health risk for digestive and heart problems. If you want to eat mushrooms that were made the previous day, eat them cold!
Chicken, like mushrooms, contains proteins that react negatively when reheated. When cold chicken is heated for the second time, the protein composition changes, which can lead to digestive problems. If you must reheat your chicken, make sure that it is completely cooked and the inside is steaming hot. To use leftover chicken without having to reheat it, put it in a cold salad or on a cold sandwich.
Spinach and Butter lettuce
These leafy greens should never be heated for a second time. They contain high amounts of nitrates, which can break down and form nitrites due to organisms that are present. Nitrites can affect the oxygen level in the blood, become toxic and cause food poisoning when reheated.
Eggs should not be repeatedly exposed to heat. Reheating eggs at high temperatures after they’ve been boiled or fried can make them toxic and result in problems with your digestive tract. Never reheat scrambled or boiled eggs – the protein in them gets destroyed when repeatedly exposed to heat.
Reheating rice isn’t actually what can make you sick – it’s storing it improperly. Leaving the rice out at room temperature for longer than an hour – if you’re waiting for it to cool or letting it sit out at dinner or a party – can allow the rice to grow a potentially dangerous bacteria that can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Store your extra rice in an air-tight container immediately after cooking it, and reheating it will be safe.
Turnips and Beets
Turnips and beets are common ingredients in soups and stews. If you’re reheating soup, take turnips and beets out before you do so. Their high amount of nitrates can make them toxic when subjected to heat for a second time.
Grape seed oil, walnut oil, avocado oil and hazelnut oil all have very low smoke points that cause them to become rancid when you reheat them. Avoid using these types of oils for cooking, baking or frying. Reheating oil can turn it into dangerous trans fats if overheated.
If you let potatoes sit at room temperature for a long period of time, they can lose their nutritional value, and conditions may be right for the growth of botulism. This is another storage issue. As soon as you’re done cooking your potatoes, store them in the refrigerator if they aren’t being eaten.
If you’re making a dish with one of these items, adjust the amount you’re making to a serving size that’s appropriate for you, or you and your family, to eliminate leftovers. If you find yourself with leftovers, find a recipe for a dish for the next night that uses your leftovers and can be eaten cold!