Buying bagged lettuce is definitely the easiest option when it comes to meal-prepping the salad of your dreams. But spending a few extra minutes washing and chopping your own greens is not only better for avoiding harmful bacteria but also for getting the maximum amount of nutrients.
The The New York Times recently reported that water-soluble vitamins in greens often diminish faster when bagged compared to fresh lettuce. This is largely because before the package lands your fridge, triple-washed and ready to go, the leaves travel through a cleansing and chopping process that depletes some of the main health-boosting reasons you eat ’em to begin with.
Bagged spinach, for instance, can get stripped of half its folate and 80 percent of its vitamin C, and it only takes a handful of days for the transformation to happen.
Bagged spinach, for instance, can get stripped of half its folate and 80 percent of its vitamin C—and it only takes a handful of days for the transformation to happen. This means if your leaves sit around too long (which, incidentally isn’t very long at all) before you eat them, you’ll likely sacrifice huge health gains. And why sacrifice those benefits for something that’s only slightly more convenient?
Another reason to think twice about the nutrient-lacking, bag of greens? Bacteria. It may look cleaner on first glance than the loose-leaf alternative, but there are plenty of listeria outbreaks that come courtesy of pre-washed variety.
“The less hands on your greens, the better,” integrative nutritionist Maria Marlowe said. “With loose salad, you’re the only one washing it, and not relying on someone else to do it.”
Ultimately, the few extra minutes required to prepare your own lettuce gives you the vitamins and nutrients your body needs, and helps you avoid foodborne illnesses, too.