Ask the Coaches: 7 Foods You Should Not Refrigerate

Written by Joel Marion

7 Foods You Should Not Refrigerate

Q: It’s late at night, and for me, that means I’m making frequent trips to my refrigerator. I am literally standing here with the refrigerator door open, typing this question on my phone as I look for a healthy snack to satisfy my craving. And it got me thinking… are there any foods I should avoid refrigerating? If so, why?

Thanks for any thoughts or advice.

-Travis

Thanks for the great question, Travis! As I’m also a frequent late-night visitor to my fridge, I can definitely relate. In fact, I’m answering this question the same way you asked it… typing away on my phone by the bright light of my open fridge.

Hmmm, what to eat? I think I’ll go with strawberries tonight (low calorie, high fiber, low glycemic, and quite filling).

You’re also right about being concerned with foods you keep in your fridge. Yes, typically we put anything perishable into the cool, dark refrigerator to help it stay fresher, longer. Having said that, did you know that refrigeration can actually cause certain foods to spoil faster? It’s true. In fact, here are 7 foods you should not refrigerate and why:

7 Foods You Should Not Refrigerate

1. Bananas: Storing bananas in the refrigerator can actually disrupt the ripening process. In fact, once refrigerated, a banana may never be able to resume the ripening process even if returned to room temperature. Just think of how devastating that is for the banana :(. And how devastating it is for you if your banana never reaches its perfect ripeness! The best place to store your bananas is right on the countertop in easy view for a quick, delicious treat.

2. Sweet Potatoes: When exposed to cold temperatures, starches found in potatoes will turn to sugar, disrupting their flavor and texture, not to mention increasing their sugar content. If you prefer tasteless potatoes that cause weight gain, please go ahead and stick them in the fridge. If, like me, you prefer your sweet potatoes to taste sweet and delicious, keep them in a dark, cool (not cold) place. Mine reside on the bottom shelf in my pantry.

3. Tomatoes: Ever had a really amazing tomato right out of the fridge? Me either. Tomatoes actually lose their flavor and become mushy when refrigerated. Store your tomatoes on the counter in your fruit bowl. Again, they’ll be in sight, so you’ll remember to eat them while they’re at their freshest.

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4. Apples: Tell me if you agree—there’s little worse than biting into a soft, mealy apple when you’re expecting a wonderful, crisp crunch. As with tomatoes, apples lose their texture and flavor when refrigerated. If you prefer your apples cold, place one in the fridge about 30 minutes before eating. The rest of the time, let them live on the counter. That’s what I always do.

5. Onions: If you love soggy onions and the rest of your food to taste and smell like onions, then you’ll definitely want to refrigerate your onions immediately. Otherwise, try storing them in a paper bag (within a cool, dark cabinet/pantry) for maximum shelf-life. They can help keep your sweet potatoes company.

6. Avocados: Much like the banana, refrigeration shuts down an avocado’s ripening enzymes. If you want guacamole next month, this may be okay, but if you’re like me, you probably want guacamole today. Go ahead and place them in your fruit bowl on the counter (if they last longer than the day you bring them home).

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7. Coffee: While it used to be popular to store coffee in the freezer, contrary to popular belief, coffee is best stored at room temperature to allow the natural oils within the coffee bean to activate its pungent aromatic scent. My brother Big Jim, who savagely loves all things coffee, let me in on this little secret. On the flip side, refrigeration can actually cause coffee to absorb odors from other foods in your fridge. Curry flavored coffee anyone? I know I won’t make that mistake twice.

-Joel Marion

PS- If you have any health questions, please feel free to comment below. Our team of coaches will answer as many as possible.

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  • bill sexton

    I’m hungry!

    • Cristina

      Me too, Bill. I eat because I am hungry and I am hungry because I eat. 😉

  • John Hasse

    banana: If it is ripe, it will hold longer in the fridge, and not become over ripe. (also applies to tomatoes, apples, avocado….) There fore, The one thing never to put in fridge: honey– unless you have added water, so you can mix it into a cold drink.

  • CV.

    How to store citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit etc?

    • Cristina

      Greetings, C.V. Excellent question.

      Generally speaking there is no right or wrong way to store your citrus provided it is in a cool, dry place. Much like many fruits and vegetables, once they are picked, they begin to decompose. In terms of citrus fruits, they begin to dry out.

      For me personally, I store my citrus in the refrigerator as I have found it delays this process. However once I am ready to consume them, I leave on the counter to allow them to get to room temperature as they seem to taste better and are juicer.

  • Michelle Weitzmann

    Sorry, on another subject, does anyone know why watermelons (most) have yellow lines running through them that sometime spread out to a thicker line then a cluster, they fatten to almost the size of half a dime and taste nasty as all get out, I did once trust me

    • Cristina

      Hi Michelle. Great question! Watermelon is one of my all time favorite foods, so much so that for my tenth birthday I asked to have candles in a watermelon in lieu of a cake.

      According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, the whitish-yellow “vein” is a collection of dead/undeveloped flesh cells. It is caused by the growing environment.

      This is common for the fruit set [the stage of fruit development that takes place shortly after bloom or when one can readily see which blossoms have at least temporarily set-in-place fruit] and developed under dramatic temperature variation (more severe under cold temperatures, but it can occur under too high temperatures as well).

      Since those cells became inactive at early development stage, there is essentially no sugar and lycopene accumulated in those cells. They look whitish (can be yellowish too) and taste woody.

      Nothing that would harm anyone, but it does explain the taste.

      I am not sure which region you reside in, however it would appear that it may not be due to any particular type of watermelon, but rather the area where the watermelons are grown being more prone to being hit by a sudden onset of cold or heat at the critical point in the fruit’s growth.

  • Robert ulmer

    Great advice thanks

    • Cristina

      Hi Robert. We are extremely grateful for your time and willingness to share your positive feedback.

      We hope you will give us the opportunity to connect with you again.

  • DrBillLemoine

    As a single guy minimizing trips to the grocery, some of this makes no sense and is contrary to my own findings. I refrigerate tomatoes, onions (both yellow and Bermuda) and coffee with no odors absorbed or mushy outcomes. Ditto, apples whether Macintosh or Gala. I don’t eat avocado or sweet potato except in tv dinners for the latter. Bananas are the exception but I go through spells of eating one or two and always find at least one spoiled. Any other bright ideas?

  • Evangeline Phillips

    Apples are best either eaten at once or sliced about 3 times as thick as usual and then placed into boiling water until the surface is cooked but they retain some crunch in the middle. Place them into a bowl placing only one layer round the bowl, place bowl into iced water then when apples are cold place them into a freezer bags taking care only to put one serving in each bag. Freeze. These apples take about 24 hours to freeze and can be kept for 12 months then use in pies or turned into apple sauce. They still retain most of their flavour if they are cooked, cooled and frozen quickly.

    • Cristina

      This is terrific advice for how to preserve apples, Evangeline. Do you put anything on the apples prior to freezing them such as lemon juice? Or have you found that by boiling them that prevents them from discoloration and allows them to retain their crisp?

  • Thanks Joel, that was informative especially concerning the coffee and onion warning. I’ll make sure not to refrigerate these two items in the future.

    • Cristina

      It is wonderful to hear that we were able to provide you with some helpful information, Unkabob.

      I will pass along your comments to Joel and our team. It is words just like these that keep us going.

      If there are any topics of interest that you would like to learn more about, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

  • Matt R

    I have to disagree about not putting apples in the refrigerator. There’s nothing like a fresh cold apple. I haven’t experienced them getting mushier either. In fact, they seem to keep much longer when refrigerated. A cold Fuji or Gala apple is the best.

    • Cristina

      Hi Matt. I can completely understand your position as my children both enjoy chilled apples, so with apples I believe it really is a matter of preference. When we visit the farmer’s market, we load up on fresh fruits and vegetables and to be honest the apples sometimes don’t make it home. There is nothing more crisp than a freshly picked apple, and we generally consume these at room temperature.

      According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “You can refrigerate apples, but you don’t need to. The cold air inside the refrigerator tends to break down their crisp texture. Leave them out on the counter. But if you prefer your fruit cold, go ahead and refrigerate”.

      It appears personal preference trumps all advice where apples are concerned.

  • Shalah Rostvit

    My mom’s ankle as been getting swollen really bad, hard for her to walk on it. She was told that it turned into arthritis on her ankle. I also, have developed arthritis on my spin and neck. What would you suggest to bring the swelling down and stay down?

    • Cristina

      Hi Shalah. All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of an qualified physician or healthcare provider.

      We do carry what we consider to be a next generation joint health supplement called Joint 33X. This product is made with natural ingredients that have been shown to be both safe and extremely effective, and its use is intended for healthy adults over the age of 18.

      Joint 33X is scientifically-designed with three branded, research-backed, joint-nourishing ingredients, which have been shown (across 9+ human
      studies) to:

      • Revitalize tired and worn joints
      • Support joint mobility and flexibility
      • Improve joint comfort
      • Reduce stiffness

      This may be something for your mother, and yourself, to consider in your efforts to combat the discomfort you are experiencing. However, I would first recommend discussing these symptoms with a physician to ensure there is no underlying cause for concern.

  • Emanuel Goldman

    Disagree about apples. They last longer in the fridge, and do not lose, IMO, their crisp texture. I store them long term in the fruit/veg bin on bottom of refrigerator, take out a few at a time and wash them to leave at room temp every few days. Also, once avocado gets soft and ripe, refrigeration will extend the shelf life if you’re not ready to eat it right away.

    • Cristina

      This is great information, Emmanuel. I think you may have the right idea when it comes to apples. Often times when I buy fruits and vegetables and I know I will not be consuming them immediately, I will refrigerate them until the day I need them, then bring them to room temperature. Sometimes it is hit or miss at the Farmer’s Market, so if I see something that looks exceptional that week, I will stock up. I store half in the refrigerator to start, and half remain on the counter.

      I have noticed that when fruits and vegetables are stored in plan view, there is more of a chance I will grab those first when hunger strikes.

    • I’m with you, Emanuel. I also put ripe avocados in the fridge to preserve their awesomeness. The only thing worse than a rubbery, unripe avocado is a brown, mushy one.

      Another one that I’ll put in the refrigerator are bananas. Refrigeration interrupts the ripening process by putting the kibosh on the enzymes that turn the starch (in bananas) to sugar. So, I not only put ripe bananas in the fridge to prevent over-ripening, I also use this strategy for green, unripe bananas, which are a unique source of resistant starch, a special type of carbohydrate that’s not digested. Resistant starch acts as a prebiotic, supporting the growth of healthy gut bacteria, and it also boosts metabolism, fat burning, and insulin sensitivity.

      Thanks, Emanuel!