Hi friends! How are you all doing? I finally got groceries yesterday after over two weeks of making do with what I had on hand. I was so excited to dive into my fresh salad last night, as I’d been eating frozen and canned produce the few days prior (which I recognize, all of this is still a large privilege).
As I’ve been relying more on frozen and canned produce lately, I thought I’d dive into the nutrition science of shelf-stable fruits and veg in a blog post. So, are frozen and canned fruits and vegetables nutritious? Let’s dive into what the science says so far!
Is frozen food nutritious?
Well, it depends. Most of us probably know that a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and a package of no-salt-added frozen green beans represent two vastly different nutrient profiles.
For the purpose of this post, we’ll focus primarily on frozen produce (perhaps I could do a different post about frozen entrees).
Okay, so are frozen fruits and vegetables nutritious?
Practically speaking, having frozen fruits and vegetables on hand can be an affordable and nutritious way to add produce to your diet. And it seems as if opening your dietary repertoire to frozen produce may increase your intake.
A 2018 study found that, on average, people who consume frozen fruits and vegetables eat significantly more total servings of fruits and vegetables compared to people who don’t consume frozen fruits and vegetables.
The study also found that frozen fruit and vegetable consumers got more fiber, calcium, and vitamin D compared to non-frozen fruit and vegetable consumers, and consumed less energy (calories) overall.
The authors of the study concluded that frozen fruits and vegetables can fill the fruit and vegetable gap to help Americans meet their recommended produce intake in a way that other forms, like dried, canned, and fresh fruits and vegetables do not.
Now, does this mean that buying frozen fruits and vegetables will make you healthier? Not necessarily, as there may be many other factors associated with the kinds of people who buy frozen vegetables and fruits (perhaps more health conscious) compared to those who don’t that could partially explain these results.
That said, it does suggest that embracing frozen produce might encourage you to eat more of it. And given that frozen fruits and vegetables are often more affordable and last longer than fresh, it can be a wise addition to a balanced diet.
Anecdotally, I used to kind of be opposed to frozen vegetables. In my mind, they were gross (I think I was remembering mushy unseasoned ones of the 90s in cafeterias). But once I discovered how much they’ve improved in recent years (I find Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Whole Foods, Green Giant, and Cascadian Farms brands to have darn decent frozen produce compared to some of the others), I became a big fan and now eat a lot of frozen veggies.
Now, let’s talk nutrition in terms of the fruits and vegetables themselves. What impact, if any, does freezing have on the nutritional integrity of the produce?
And, generally speaking, freezing fruits and vegetables results in pretty good retention of vitamins and minerals, meaning for the most part, they are just as nutritious as fresh fruits and vegetables.…