When it comes to the debate over the nutritional value of fresh or frozen produce, you might be surprised to know that fresh isn’t always necessarily best. While some produce contains sauces high in sodium and fat, most frozen products boast nothing added.
In truth, sometimes frozen fruits and vegetables are the cheaper and healthier choice. Need more convincing? Here are three reasons to stock the freezer with frozen fruits and veggies.
1. More nutrient-dense
Frozen fruits and vegetables are often more nutritious than their fresh counterparts. Produce harvested to be frozen is picked at its ripest time. The nutrients are then frozen in during this process, which preserves the vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients.
In contrast, fresh produce is picked before it ripens, then held for travel and distribution. A bag of frozen fruit or vegetables will often be higher in nutrients and stay fresh until you are ready to heat and eat.
Try frozen berries year-round for a surge of antioxidants and vitamin C.
2. More cost savings and longer shelf life
In case you haven’t noticed, fresh produce is priced seasonally. When produce is in season, it’s cheap and ripe. When it’s off-season, it’s expensive and isn’t always in good condition.
The good news is that you can find frozen fruits and vegetables year-round. It’s a cost-effective choice with staying power. If you store them properly, fruit and veggies can be frozen for eight to 12 months, depending upon the source. For a breakdown by food type, check out the Almanac’s handy food chart.
3. More convenience when it counts
Frozen fruits and vegetables cook in minutes, allowing for an easier and quicker way to increase fruit and vegetable intake. Simple ways to add frozen foods to your meal planning include:
- Microwave a steamer bag of broccoli or brown rice for a solid side dish
- Use “recipe ready” vegetables in soups, crockpot meals and casseroles to save time and the hassle of chopping and prepping
- Toss in frozen fruits to smoothies or allow to thaw and top off yogurt or cereal for breakfast.
No matter what you want to whip up, there is probably a frozen alternative to help boost nutrition and decrease the time you spend in the kitchen.
If something isn’t fresh or cost-effective in the produce section, look for the frozen variety and know the nutrition will be the same, if not better.
Bottom line: Eating produce in any form is better than skipping out on the essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that produce provides. Most of us don’t consume the recommended five servings of fruits and veggies we need.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower the risk of eye and digestive problems, and positively affect blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check.
If you’re looking for support on your journey to better health, find a registered dietitian near you.