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Frozen Food Nutrition: Is It Better Than Fresh Produce?

frozen-vegetables

Most of my patients have the misconception that frozen fruits and vegetables are sodium-laden, mushy, unhealthy products that aren’t worth their time. While some frozen products can have sauces which are high in sodium and fat, most frozen produce has absolutely nothing added.

In truth, sometimes frozen fruits and vegetables are not only the cheaper option, but are also the healthier option compared to fresh produce.

Here are three convincing reasons to stock the freezer with frozen fruits and vegetables:

1.  More nutrition

Frozen fruits and vegetables are often more nutritious than their fresh counterparts. Produce that is harvested to be frozen is picked at its ripest time.

The plant is then flash-frozen immediately, sealing in healthy vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients that will not spoil in the freezer.

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In contrast, fresh produce is picked before its ripened, then held for travel and distribution. Often a bag of frozen fruit or vegetables will be higher in nutrients and will stay fresh until the moment you are ready to heat and eat. 

Try frozen berries year-round for a surge of antioxidants and vitamin C.

2.  More cost savings 

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 frozen fruits and vegetables are available year-round and are always cost effective. Most frozen vegetables can be purchased for approximately $0.25 a serving!

They also last longer; frozen vegetables can be stored up to 8 months, and frozen fruit up to 12 months. 

Frozen spinach is the best bargain in the grocery store. A 10 oz bag of frozen spinach (purchased for roughly $1) is equal to 1 ¼ pounds of fresh spinach (purchased for roughly $6)

3.  More convenience

Frozen fruits and vegetables cook in minutes, allowing for an easier and quicker way to increase fruit and vegetable intake. Microwave a steamer bag of broccoli for 3 minutes and have a finished side dish for dinner. Bags of “recipe ready” vegetables can be added to soups, crock pot meals and casseroles with none of the time or hassle of chopping and prepping.

Add frozen fruits to smoothies or allow to thaw and toss in yogurt or cereal for breakfast. No matter what is being made, there is a frozen bag that can help increase nutrition and decrease the time spent cooking. 

Look for frozen steamer bags of brown rice too for another quick side dish rich in fiber, whole grains and vitamins.

At the next trip to the grocery store, take a trip down the freezer aisle and look at the variety of frozen fruits and vegetables that are available.

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. Don’t forget the cost savings and convenience benefits are just a bonus to the nutrition!

About the author

Laura Bartee, RD
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Laura is an Aarmark clinical dietitian at Baylor Scott & White Health, where her favorite area of practice is weight management and helping patients lose weight. In her personal life she enjoys reading, running road races and considers herself a chip-a-holic.

1 thought on “Frozen Food Nutrition: Is It Better Than Fresh Produce?”

  1. Thank you for this article! I not only saved a bunch grocery shopping, I have a nice stock of healthy options to turn to. I couldn’t find frozen apples so I bought those fresh, trouble is they tend to go bad quickly. I have a food dehydrator; will my apples still be beneficial if I dry them?

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Frozen Food Nutrition: Is It Better Than Fresh Produce?