Did you know that most Americans only eat one-third of the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables (consuming only three servings daily instead of nine)?
For those of us who are trying to follow a healthy diet and eat more veggies, the question often comes up – are frozen vegetables really as good as fresh ones? This concern is especially relevant in areas of the United States where fresh, locally grown vegetables are not readily available in the deep winter months and where vegetables in the produce aisle of the grocery store may have been in-transit from other parts of the country, or even other parts of the world, for quite some time.
Fresh Vegetables May Not Be So Fresh
The overall freshness of a vegetable is determined right after harvesting. Vegetables destined for the grocery store are picked before they are ripe, and unfortunately, that gives them less time to develop all of their vitamins, minerals and flavor.
Once a fruit or veggie is picked, it begins to release heat and lose water and gradually lose its nutritional value. While signs of ripening can still happen (the color of the skin deepens, softness occurs), the nutritional value does not increase.
Have you ever eaten a fresh sliced tomato right off the vine in the middle of summer or a just picked apple in the fall? Compare that flavor and nutritional goodness to a store-bought version – there’s no comparison!
Frozen Vegetables are Fresh
Whereas vegetables that are going to be canned (with the exception of pumpkin and tomatoes) lose a lot of nutrients during the canning process, frozen vegetables are generally a more healthy choice than some “fresh” produce because vegetables destined for freezing tend to be picked at their peak ripeness (as opposed to before), when they are most nutritious and delicious.
It is true that before freezing, vegetables are quickly blanched in steam or boiling water to kill bacteria and stop enzymes from degrading the food —and that process may diminish some nutrients like vitamin C and B, but flash-freezing vegetables keeps them in a very nutrient-rich state. Research has found frozen vegetables are often more healthy have fresh.
Keep Your Frozen Veggies Delicious
This is great news for those of us with busy lifestyles that rely on frozen veggies for both healthy eating and convenient meal preparation. However, just like with fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables really don’t “last” forever (even if they’re frozen). Ideally, you should use an unopened bag or box of frozen vegetables within 6 months of purchase and use an already opened bag within two months. Make sure to keep your frozen vegetables in the freezer, not the refrigerator. Once you open a bag of frozen vegetables, be sure to re-seal the bag carefully to prevent ice crystals from forming. This not only helps the vegetables to retain their vitamins, but keeps the flavor intact as well.
Our Recommendation on the Fresh versus Frozen Vegetables Debate
When vegetables are in-season in your local area, buy them fresh and ripe from your Farmers’ Market or regional CSA (community supported agriculture). You know that they will be fresh-picked at the peak of ripeness, and as long as you are able to eat or cook them within a few days, you’ll enjoy all of the high nutrition, and excellent flavor without generating much food waste. In the off-season or if you don’t live near any local farms, frozen vegetables have a better guarantee of providing the most nutrition.
However, not all frozen vegetables are alike!
Be sure to choose packages marked with a USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project verified like Tommy’s Superfoods to avoid genetically modified organisms and remember to steer clear of veggies drenched in fatty, oily sauces or marinades. A healthy choice can quickly turn into a high-fat and calorie nightmare if you’re not careful.
Don’t want to have to worry about reading labels? Choose Tommy’s Superfoods!
At Tommy’s Superfoods, we’re committed to providing high-quality, flavorful frozen vegetable medleys that are delicious, nutritious, and free of GMOs. Our simple sauces and seasonings are packed with flavor and won’t ruin your diet with lots of excess fat and calories. When you’re on the go, and want quick and healthy vegetables for any meal the day, reach for our easy to prepare bags in the frozen vegetables section of your grocery store – you won’t be disappointed!