Fresh, Frozen, or Canned – Which is Healthier?

Have you heard fresh is best? Do you want to eat the best you can?

Is it hard to get into prepping all those veggies?

Sometimes it’s just so time-consuming to prepare all those fresh vegetables. Really, we know it’s much easier to tear open a bag of frozen veggies or pop open a can.

Vegetables, fruits, and their matching herbs define food. “Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.”—Alice May Brock

Choosing the right vegetable can make or break a dish. All vegetables make food healthy.

Would you be surprised to know that sometimes healthier food comes from the freezer?

Keep reading on it so you can understand.

How to Preserve the Nutrients

When it comes to any food you’re eating, you want to get as many nutrients out of the food as possible. That way, you eat less food and are more satisfied. And, when you eat less food, it helps you to lose weight.

Fruits and vegetables are very nutrient-rich, which is why they are the basis of all healthy diets. Even here at Custom Health Centers, the majority of our diet plan is fruits and vegetables. Try this recipe we often recommend: Berry Spinach Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette.

As Joel Fuhrman said: “The diet, to be healthy, has to be mostly fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds.”

All veggies are most nutrient-rich right as it’s picked. But, unless you have a garden right in your backyard, you’re not going to get produce that fresh. So, we have to look at ways of preserving the nutrients for as long as possible.

Every moment after a farmer picks a fruit or vegetable, it loses nutrition. So, you would think that fresh would be best, right?

It depends.

You see, when you purchase from the grocery store, the fruit or vegetable you pick up could be several days old. That means it had several days to lose its nutritional value. And, if your fruit or vegetable came from overseas, it could be weeks or months old.

On the other hand, you can take a look at local farmers markets. Generally, they will pick their produce and sell it within a day or two. So, farmers markets truly are the freshest and best place to purchase… unless they are buying from far away and reselling, but that’s a whole other topic.

This is where frozen might be best. In the middle of winter, you’re not going to find fresh broccoli, tomatoes, or cucumbers grown locally. You may find a few grown in greenhouses, but they’ll be much more expensive.

In steps frozen fruits and vegetables.

Grocery stores have strict requirements of how a fruit or vegetable must look before they put it on a shelf. So, nearly half of all produce is considered “Rejects” from the grocery store. In many cases, those rejects get sent to factories where they become frozen or canned veggies.

Many fruits and vegetables freeze within 24 hours of being picked. That makes frozen fruits and vegetables better than the ones that you find in the grocery store. Freezing will preserve most of the nutrients.

The downside of freezing is the fruit or vegetable tends to lose its structural integrity and becomes limp and mushy.

If you can’t get something fresh locally where you are and have to get it from the grocery store, you might want to look into frozen fruits and vegetables. Not only can it save you money, but it’ll also give you more nutritional value.

Why Canned Veggies Are Mush

So, that leaves canned vegetables and fruit. With one exception, we don’t recommend canned fruits or vegetables. Here’s why:

In the canning process, your veggies are washed, chopped, and place in the cans with water (and sometimes salt). Sometimes, those cans get a coating of a preservative like BTE. Then, the cans undergo high heat and pressure, which cooks the vegetable or fruit.

Because these fruits and vegetables are in water, many of the nutrients are leached out into the liquid in the boiling process.

What’s the first thing you do with canned fruit or vegetables?

If you are like 99% of the population, you dump out the liquid and cook the vegetable.

So, basically what you did is dump the nutrient-rich liquid, and you cook the already cooked vegetable.

Canned peas and carrots were staples 40-60 years ago. Maybe that’s why so many older adults now really can’t stand fresh fruits and vegetables. Their childhood memories are filled with mushy, tasteless vegetables.

The only exception to the canned vegetable is tomatoes. The cooking process releases more nutrients than it destroys from the tomato. This is especially true for the nutrient lycopene.

Of course, home canning is a bit different, and that’s a whole other blog.

The Right Veggie for the Right Recipe

So, what do you choose?

  1. Take a look at the time you have to prep vegetables for your meal.
    • Do you have time to chop and cook fresh vegetables?
    • Or is pulling out frozen vegetables necessary?
  2. Take a look at the type of vegetables you can get locally that are fresh.
    • Do you have access to a farmer’s market where you can get fruits and vegetables within two to three days of being picked?
    • If so, your better bet is fresh fruits and vegetables. If not, you have the options of fresh from the grocery store and frozen.
  3. Take a look at what your family will eat. We recommend transitioning over from overcooked vegetables from a can to frozen. Then, try fresh That way, you begin to get more nutrition into your diet, and you explore the rich range of textures, flavors, and sensations fresh vegetables can give you.

We know that sometimes time is a factor when it comes to cooking. We want things to be as easy as possible and focuses as much on fruits and vegetables as you can. If that means choosing frozen vegetables over fresh and it means you get in that extra serving, go for the frozen vegetables.

As your diet and time allows, switch over to real, fresh vegetables and start experiencing the new sensations.

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