Fresh, Frozen, Canned… What’s Better?
Fruits and vegetables have an endless amount of benefits for health and overall well-being: they saturate the body with important vitamins and minerals, help to maintain water balance in the system, promote weight loss, help to reduce blood pressure, etc. etc. No wonder why doctors, dietitians, fitness trainers and health bloggers all recommend keeping your diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
But what is the best, or at least the healthiest way to eat produce? Are fresh fruits and vegetables better than frozen or canned? Do they lose their nutritive properties when they are frozen or preserved?
In fact, specialists cannot really give a clear answer to that question. Either of the ways of eating fruits and vegetables can provide major health benefits, if done correctly. Below, you will find a quick guide on how to make the best choice for your diet.
Although is not clear which way of eating fruits and vegetables is the healthiest, the most common way is to eat them fresh. When we buy fruits and veggies, we usually buy them fresh. Their bright colors attract our attention and remind us about the importance of endless nutrients they contain. The variety of fruits and vegetables also gives us the opportunity to buy different kinds of them, which helps to enrich our diet with healthy options.
It has been proven that families who are used to keeping fresh fruits and vegetables in the kitchen do actually eat these foods regularly. Therefore, it’s an absolute must to fill your shopping cart with these nutritive gifts of nature.
However, fresh fruits and veggies may lose and often do lose a part of their nutrients during transport, handling, and when exposed to air. They are also susceptible to decomposition due to bugs, bacteria and other factors. This is why fresh and ripe fruits and vegetables should not be kept on the shelf for a long time.
Here are some recommendations on how to buy and store fresh produce.
Dietitians recommend buying fresh fruits and vegetables close to the moment or day you are going to need them. They also suggest that you buy them at local farmers market to get the fresher and more organic options.
Not all the fruits and vegetables should be kept in the refrigerator. Some of them may lose their nutritive properties, and they get spoiled faster.
How many times have you found yourself having some corn, peaches, or pickles straight out of the can? How many times have you thought about how healthy it is?
We all, at least many of us, know that canned fruits and veggies contain higher concentration of salt and sugar, which does not benefit our health. Therefore, many health-conscious consumers usually choose not to include canned produce in their diet.
Although the process of canning does require some cooking, which results in the loss of some water-soluble vitamins (like vitamin B and C), canned produce retains the majority of its vitamins and minerals. Besides, it has the longest shelf life, which may be up to five years, and is often cheaper than the alternative options. One of the main benefits of canned produce is that fruits and vegetables collected for canning are often picked at its peak harvest, which means they contain maximum nutrients.
If you have high blood pressure, choose canned fruits and vegetables labelled as “low sodium” or “no salt added”. You can also rinse them in a colander, which can help to drain of up to 40 percent of the salt. Also, choose fruits preserved in water or in their own juices, instead of those canned in heavy syrups.
Frozen produce gives us an opportunity to enjoy our favorite fruits and veggies all year-round, even when they are out of season. They are also great for making cold tasty and healthy smoothie cocktails, with or without ice.
In fact, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables have many things in common. There are more economical compared to fresh alternatives; collected during their peak season, they are full of healthy nutrients; and the process of freezing also requires some cooking (blanching), which may damage some part of their vitamin content (again, vitamin B and C).
Unlike canned produce that can be kept for up to five years, the shelf life of frozen produce is a little shorter. Frozen vegetables are good for up to 8 months, while frozen fruits – for up to one year.
What Is the Better?
As it was stated earlier, you cannot say which option is objectively, nutritionally better than others, since fruits and vegetables lose a part of their nutritional value, regardless of whether they are fresh, frozen or canned, either during the preparation process, or simply as time goes by. Dietitians recommend keeping a variety in your house, so that you can see what is best for you.