Today we are going to talk about the nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. You already know that eating vegetables is essential for your health, and they available fresh, frozen, and canned. Do you ever wonder what the difference is between them? After all, aren’t they all vegetables?
Here’s what you should know about each.
Canned vegetables are generally more processed. While these are handy to keep around – especially during the seasons of the year where storms can keep you in the dark – they lack in nutrition over fresh or frozen choices. Canned vegetables also tend to have far more sodium than fresh and frozen varieties. If you choose canned vegetables, try to find options without added sodium to make a healthier choice.
Fresh veggies are indeed a prime choice, yet they can lose a lot of their nutrients before they are consumed. It can take weeks for them to get to your table from the time they’re picked, so it is not uncommon for produce to be picked green to maximize life in the store. This means less nutrient value. Even when picked ripe, a long trip to the store can result in loss of up to 50% of their nutrients.
To keep these veggies’ nutrient powers intact, cook them at lower temperatures and for shorter times. Make sure you use very little water to keep vitamin C and B vitamins from disappearing too. A quick stir fry or steaming is a much better option than boiling; though if you must boil your veggies, add them after the water begins to boil.
One of the best ways to get the most nutrients from your fresh vegetables though is buying them locally and while they’re in season. This ensures that they have lost the least amount of time between harvest and your purchase. Make use of the freshest vegetables available to you for the best taste and most nutrition.
Interestingly, frozen veggies tend to retain the highest proportion of nutrients. They’re usually harvested fully ripe and frozen right after harvesting. My caution with frozen veggies is that they may be processed with additives like salt or sauces. Always read the labels to see what you’re getting, and look for brands that keep things as natural – meaning original – as possible.
You can freeze your fresh vegetables from the farmers market, too. This will ensure nothing goes to waste and that you can enjoy them without losing vital nutrients.
When it comes to vegetables, the bottom line is that getting them onto your plate – in a variety of colors – is most important. If the choice is canned or none, it’s better to eat those than to skip vegetables altogether.
In my house, we use fresh vegetables in smoothies, raw salads or stir fry. We also stock frozen veggies. Best of all, we grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and green beans to harvest fresh for the best nutrient value.
P.S. The same guidelines apply to fresh fruit as well. When you can buy in-season fresh fruit in bulk, freeze it to enjoy for weeks to come!
What Do You Think?
Do you reach for the canned, fresh, or frozen veggies? Have you ever thought about the nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables? Leave a comment and let me know what it’s like in your house.