Your favorite superfoods don't last forever. Find out how to keep healthy foods likes spices, oils, and nuts fresher for longer—plus, when to toss 'em
There are the exotic superfoods we can never learn how to pronounce (um, acai), and then there are the everyday ones—things like oats and nuts—that are seemingly ordinary but packed with good-for-you fats, potent antioxidants, and energy-boosting, slow-burning carbs. Plenty of these have super long shelf lives and ring up pretty cheap (like dried beans and oats that will last for years). But nuts, spices, and oils—three common superfoods that are also a little on the pricier side—have limited lifespans. Find out how long you can keep them, plus what tricks you can use to squeeze a little extra time out of these health staples.
Nuts and Nut Butters
While you might not think of nuts as something that "spoils," the fats in them can go rancid after just four or so months. If you buy a large bag and don't have immediate plans for it, store half in the freezer, says McKel Hill, R.D., founder of Nutrition Stripped. (This works well for seeds, like flax or chia too.) As for your homemade nut butter: Store it in the fridge, where it can last for up to a month, she advises. (Check out what else is on the list of Healthy Foods That Give You Every Nutrient You Need.)
Spices and Dried Herbs
These can last for six months to about a year, says Hill (though whole spices may last a bit longer). "Spices simply start to lose their strong fragrance," says Hill—a sign they've likely lost their strong taste too. Since a pricey bottle won't last forever, buy a new spice—or one you don't use often—from a bulk seller, if you can. This way you can see if you like it before buying more, or get only the amount you need. And when you buy fresh herbs, Hill recommends storing them in a glass with an inch of water—like flowers in a vase—in the refrigerator. They'll last for up to a week.
Like nuts, oils go bad when the fats in them go rancid. Heat and light accelerate that process, so keep them in a cool dark place. Olive oil loses some of it's heart-healthy benefits over time, reports NPR, so look for bottles with a harvest date on them and use them up within four to six months after opening a new one. (Did you know olive oil can help Rev Up Your Metabolism?) As for the delicious nut oils you use on top of salads or roasted veggies, store them in the fridge, just like the nuts they're made from. Once they're open, they'll last about six months.