Experts Warn To Never Store Potatoes In The Fridge, Here's What Happens To Them
Somes foods taste better when stored in the fridge, but certain foods just do not belong in there. If you leave dairy and meat products out for too long, they can become toxic and harmful to your health; they belong in the refrigerator. But some foods are the opposite--refrigerating them makes them dangerous to you.
The best place for some foods actually is in the pantry where it's cool, dark and dry. There, those foods will remain in a healthy state and should not convert to an unhealthy form. One such food to avoid storing in the refrigerator happens to be a favorite starch for many people.
Potatoes that are stored in the refrigerator will experience their sugar levels rise in the cold and then when they are cooked, the refrigerated potatoes will have what's called the acrylamide level increase, which can be toxic to anyone who eats them. Acrylamide is an odorless, white, water-soluble chemical shown in studies to cause cancer in animal test subjects. Furthermore, sprouted potatoes harbor solanine, which is a poison that can cause you to experience gastrointestinal and neurological complications. Of course, what two foods have the highest level of acrylamides of all? French fries and potato chips.
Not only does refrigerating potatoes cause problems, cooking them at a high temperature for long periods of time can cause them to emit toxins. Because potatoes contain starchy carbohydrates, they release even higher levels of acrylamide when cooked or roasted at a temperature higher than 250 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the American Cancer Society. Also, cooking potatoes at a temperature higher than 250 degrees and for longer than recommended, the spuds will generate more acrylamide and become even more toxic.
Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns consumers to limit exposure to acrylamide due to the fact that it's been proven as carcinogenic in animals. FDA chemist Lauren Robin said acrylamides also form or are compounded during high-temperature cooking processes, like frying and baking. That means acrylamides are in not just potatoes, but cereals, coffee, crackers or breads, dried fruits and other foods. In fact, acrylamide is found in 40 percent of the calories consumed in the average American diet. In August 2009, Health Canada placed acrylamide on its list of toxic substances contained in food and monitors acrylamide content in foods.
To deter you from refrigerating your spuds, as well as cooking your potatoes for too long and at too high of a temperature, know that acrylamide is used to make dyes, plastics and paper. It treats wastewater and is in cigarette smoke. Sarah Pope, known as the Healthy Home Economist, said a study involving rats and mice that were given drinking water containing high levels of acrylamide ended up having several types of cancer.
"In people, studies on acrylamide in the diet have produced mixed results for some types of cancer including kidney, endometrial, and ovarian. Exposure to high levels of acrylamide in the workplace via inhalation or the skin has been shown to cause nerve damage, which can lead to numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, bladder problems, in addition to other symptoms."
Pope recommends briefly blanching potatoes in water for 30 minutes before roasting or frying them when that's your preferred method of preparation. The National Cancer Institute agrees that that's one method to help reduce acrylamide production in potatoes before cooking them. The United Kingdom's information services department also suggests the following steps to reducing acrylamides:
--If soaking potatoes in water for 30 minutes before frying or roasting them, be sure to drain off excess water and wipe them before placing the chips into hot oil.
--If you're making your own chips, cook them to a lighter color than many store-bought chips. The potato chips contain lower levels of acrylamide when cooked at the lighter color.