Food

6 Basic Foods You Should Never Microwave

We don't always have the time or energy to cook daily therefore using the microwave to warm up extra food from the fridge has become a way of life for many Americans

Unfortunately, as convenient as it may be, research has shown that not all foods should be reheated because they could lead to some form of poisoning. Illness from warming up cold food usually stems from bacteria growth when stored improperly or because of the way in which the proteins breakdown during the reheating process.

The severity of foodborne illness is usually dependant on the type of bacteria or virus causing the contamination. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Salmonella, Norovirus, Campylobacter, E.Coli, Listeria and Clostridium perfringens cause the most illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States.

There are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness per year which means that 1 in 6 Americans are affected by food poisoning annually. Roughly 128,000 of the cases result in hospitalizations and 3,000 in deaths.

So to prevent you and your family from contracting food poisoning, here are 6 common foods you should avoid reheating on the stove, in the oven or the microwave:

1. Rice

Improperly handling rice after the cooking process can lead to serious health complications. When left standing at room temperature, the warm and moist environment allow Bacillus cereus spores in the rice multiply and produce poisons that cause diarrhoea, cramps, vomiting and nausea. The B. cereus bacteria cannot be killed during the reheating process so how you store rice immediately after cooking is crucial. To prevent the nasty bacteria from getting into your system it is recommended that you serve rice as soon as it's cooked, immediately store leftovers in the fridge, don't leave freshly cooked rice out for more than an hour and don't eat leftover rice that's been in the fridge for more than a day.

2. Chicken

Chicken and eggs are usual culprits in many food poisoning cases. If they aren't cooked or reheated all the way through, the salmonella bacteria can lead to severe illness characterized by diarrhoea, fever, abdominal cramps, vomiting. There's an even higher risk of getting sick if using a microwave to reheat the dinner staple because the heatwaves do not penetrate the meat evenly. Additionally, chicken has a higher density than red meat therefore the proteins react differently to heat and can cause discomfort when eaten.

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3. Mushrooms

The proteins present in the fungi deteriorate as soon as they're cut up and heating them up a second time can trigger an upset stomach. Mushrooms should be eaten soon after they're prepared and if you have leftovers they should be eaten cold to keep from getting sick.

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4. Potatoes

This is probably the most surprising food on this list. Similar to rice, the main cause of food poisoning by potatoes isn't exactly the reheating but how they're stored once cooked. If left to cool down to room temperature, potatoes enable Clostridium botulinum (botulism) to grow. Botulism is a rare bacteria that can cause muscle weakness, respiratory failure and even death. Nuking potatoes in the microwave will not kill the bacteria, so it's best to refrigerate the starchy vegetable right after cooking.

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5. Spinach, Celery and Beets

Celery, beets, spinach and other leafy vegetables are extremely healthy to consume when raw or cooked only once. These vegetables tend to contain high concentrations of nitrates that produce dangerous toxins with carcinogenic properties when reheated.

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6. Oils

If possible avoid reheating cooking oils including olive, flaxseed and sunflower because experts have found that they release toxic compounds linked to brain diseases such as Alzheimer's and cancer. The aldehydes released by oil at frying temperature not only pollutes the air, it also remains on our food. The toxic substance is caused by the "degradation of fatty acids in the oil."

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[H/T: FDA]

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Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.