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Are There Any Nutrients in Leftovers?

Foods like soups and casseroles often taste even better then next day. But how much nutritional value is there in reheated leftovers?

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
1-minute read

Q. "My sister-in-law made chili on Saturday for a family get-together on Sunday. We reheated the chili on Sunday for the party and then my husband and I ate the rest of it on Monday.  I'm wondering if there were any nutrients left in it by that point?" 

A. Yes, there were plenty of nutrients left in your reheated chili. (Plus, chili often tastes even better the next day.)  Some nutrients, such as protein and most of the minerals, are relatively unaffected by heat. And because heating, cooling, and reheating beans and grains can convert some of the starch into a resistant form, the leftover chili might even have been a bit higher in fiber than the original.

See also: Why Leftover Pasta Is Good for You

Are there nutrients in leftovers?

Some nutrients, such as vitamin C, are partially degraded by heat. Your chili will be slightly lower in vitamin C every time you reheat it. The lycopene in the tomatoes, on the other hand, is made more bioavailable by cooking. 

See also: How Cooking Affects Nutrients and What's the Most Nutritious Way to Eat Vegetables?

 

Assuming that you're starting with reasonably healthy foods, nutrient losses from reheating aren't worth worrying about. In fact, making a meal out of leftovers can be a great time (and money) saver! 

See also: The 50 Best Recipes for Leftover Ham and  9 Tips for Reducing Food Waste

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.