Most people tend to rationalize their way through their nutritional decisions without much hard science (let’s face it usually no science) to back it up. When it comes to fruit and vegetable intake this is no exception. Many folks skip out on canned or frozen veggies counting them out as “nutritionally void”.
It turns out that may not be the case though. Foods that are frozen or canned may not be as pretty as the heirloom veggies you pick up at the farmers market, but don’t get it twisted.
Research has shown these foods can actually contain higher levels of certain vitamins and minerals compared to their fresh cousins. Frozen veggies can be flash frozen and preserved the same day they are harvested. Fresh veggies on the other hand lose some of their nutritional value as soon as they are picked and experience a steady decline in vitamin and mineral content day after day. This isn’t a big deal if you buy local produce but if you rely on fruits and veggies from across the country then you might be missing out. As our beloved Alaskans know fresh and local is hard to come by most of the year!
Fat soluble vitamins like A, D, and E are less prone to oxidation when they are frozen or canned. This processing prevents the main oxidation factors of heat, light, and oxygen exposure. Some commonly frozen heavy hitters for these vitamins are things such as bell peppers, spinach, kale, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
Other areas to consider when it comes to fresh, frozen, or canned is that of cost and food waste. If you find yourself constantly buying fresh veggies and finding them spoiled in the back of your fridge then 1) you are not eating the vegetables and 2) you are wasting your money on them. Frozen and canned veggies will maintain their quality and are clearly set up for a longer shelf life than fresh produce.
One downside to more shelf-stable options in sodium content. The amount of sodium in preserved foods should be of particular consideration for anyone with known cardiac issues. So if you (or your family) have heart conditions, particularly high blood pressure, flash frozen may be the better choice. Many brands now offer “low” or “no sodium added” canned options, so keep an eye out!
With that in mind, don’t be afraid to change up your nutritional strategies. If your goal is to save money and eat more healthy food then it’s worth a shot!