Is it safe to reheat leftover food? Expert decodes

Food items, particularly leftovers, are frequently reheated in kitchens all around the world. However, experts seem to agree that reheating is unhealthy.


Food items, particularly leftovers, are frequently reheated in kitchens all around the world. However, experts seem to agree that reheating is unhealthy. Clinical nutritionist Garima Goyal, as reported by Hindustan Times, stated, “It is important to understand that not all foods react well to this process.” This is due to the fact that warming some meals may cause them to lose their safety, flavor, and texture.

Explore, why it’s not a good idea to reheat some foods.


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Tea’s flavor and health benefits are derived from delicate chemicals like polyphenols and antioxidants. During the initial brewing process, tea produces several different chemicals, such as catechins and tannins. These substances can break down when tea is reheated, which might result in a loss of flavor and possibly even health advantages.

“Tea contains caffeine, which can become more concentrated upon reheating, potentially causing adverse effects like jitteriness or sleep disturbances. Reheating tea can also potentially contribute to acidity due to the breakdown of certain compounds and changes in pH levels,” stated Goyal.

“Tannic acid can impart a more acidic taste to the tea, particularly if it has been reheated multiple times,” cautioned Goyal.

“For individuals prone to acid reflux or gastrointestinal issues, consuming acidic beverages like reheated tea may exacerbate symptoms. To minimise acidity and ensure optimal taste and benefits, it’s best to brew tea fresh each time and avoid reheating,” added Goyal.


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Nitrates found in spinach are transformed into nitrites when cooked. “Nitrites can then react with amino acids to form nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens. Reheating spinach can also lead to a loss of water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and B vitamins, diminishing its nutritional value,” Goyal mentioned.

“When spinach is cooked and then reheated, the iron present in the spinach can undergo oxidation, a chemical reaction that occurs when iron comes into contact with oxygen in the air. This oxidation process can result in the formation of iron oxides, which can change the colour and taste of the spinach,” said Goyal.

“To preserve the nutrients and avoid the formation of harmful compounds, consuming fresh spinach or incorporating it into dishes without reheating is recommended,” added Goyal.

Cooking oil

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According to Goyal, repetitive cycles of heating and cooling might result in the creation of trans fats and dangerous substances like aldehydes, which are linked to inflammation and heart disease. Furthermore, heating oil above its smoke point can release harmful gases and give meals an off flavor. It is recommended to use fresh oil for every cooking session and to refrain from warming oil more than once in order to preserve its integrity.


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Due to their porous and readily moisture absorption nature, mushrooms are perfect for bacterial growth. According to Goyal, warming mushrooms can encourage bacterial development and raise the possibility of contracting a foodborne illness. Additionally, many substances found in mushrooms, such as polysaccharides, can change in flavor and texture when cooked through enzymatic processes. “When mushrooms are cooked, these proteins undergo structural changes through a process called denaturation,” Goyal stated.

“Additionally, reheating mushrooms can also lead to the breakdown of certain protein molecules into smaller peptides and amino acids through processes like hydrolysis. This can affect the overall protein content and composition of the mushrooms, potentially influencing their taste and digestibility,” the expert further added.


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Goyal clarified that when rice is kept at room temperature for an extended amount of time, the bacteria known as Bacillus cereus, which is frequently found in rice, can survive the cooking process and grow. “Reheating rice does not always eliminate these bacteria and their toxins, which can cause food poisoning. Additionally, reheated rice tends to lose moisture and become dry and unappetising,” mentioned Goyal.

It’s essential to carefully store cooked rice in the refrigerator and eat it within a day or two to avoid contracting a foodborne illness.

“Understanding the reasons behind the recommendations against reheating items like tea, spinach, cooking oil, mushrooms, and rice can help make informed choices about food preparation and storage practices. By prioritising freshness and proper handling, you can enjoy meals that are not only delicious but also safe and nutritious,” Goyal wrapped up.


Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice.