We all know it is important to eat fruits and vegetables. The optimal goal is to consume at least 2 cups of fruit and at least 2 ½ cups of vegetables each day, but which is a better choice: fresh, frozen or canned?
Fresh produce is believed to be the most nutritious, due to begin in its natural form. However, depending on its age and the cooking method, the number of water-soluble vitamins may decrease. For the freshest produce, consider visiting your local farmers market and consume shortly after purchase or freeze.
When it comes to frozen items, vegetables are typically picked at the peak of freshness, blanched, then flash-frozen, all in a short amount of time. A slight amount of nutrients may be lost depending on the production process, but nutrients are preserved once frozen. A Frozen Food Foundation study found that when compared to fresh produce, frozen items can have an equal or even better nutrient value.
As for canned items, there is a common notion that these are less nutritious than fresh or frozen. As with frozen vegetables, vegetables to be canned are picked and quickly packaged to retain nutrients. The Canned Food Alliance reports that canned produce can be as nutritious as or even more nutritious than fresh or frozen. Canned vegetables are often processed with added salt. To reduce salt intake, consider draining and rinsing produce canned with added salt, decreasing the amount of salt by as much as 40 percent. When shopping for canned vegetables, opt for the no-added-salt varieties and season to taste when cooking. Look for fruits canned in 100 percent fruit juice rather than syrup.
Frozen or canned items are an economical and versatile way to consume fruits and vegetables. With the added shelf life, consider stocking your freezer and pantry to have on hand for every meal.
When it comes down to it, consuming fresh, frozen or canned produce provides individuals with the nutrients they need. The next time you shop, consider picking up produce in each area of the grocery store, and be sure to eat your recommended servings each day.