Are bagged salads healthy? Here’s a yes, with lots of conditions attached

This year started with recalls of some bagged salads, so it would only be natural for people to wonder just how healthy such products are. A nutritionist tells Cooking Light magazine in this piece that they’re healthy but adds a lot of conditions to that recommendation.

The longer it takes lettuce to get from field to table, the more nutrients will decrease in it. So the processing time of bagged salads should mean they are less nutritious than buying a head of lettuce and doing all your own prep right? Not exactly.

“While bagged salads do experience more initial loss due to washing and chopping, research suggests they may make up for it when packaged thanks to an oxygen-reducing process called modified atmosphere packaging. Most manufacturers use to this type of packaging to maintain the color of leaves and to extend shelf life, but an added perk for consumers is that lower oxygen levels may also slow the rate at which nutrients like vitamin C and folate are lost.

“The thinking seems to be that nutrient loss in bagged salads is comparable, or possibly even less, than a whole head of lettuce stored for the same amount of time,” author  Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD states.

Should you buy bagged salads?

“With nutrient loss and bacteria risk comparable to what is seen in whole heads of lettuce and greens, most consider the benefits of increased vegetable consumption—thanks to the help of bagged salads—greater than potential risks,” she writes.

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