As winter weather continues to wreak havoc on cities across the nation, key industries are feeling the brunt of the effects, including agriculture. Extreme cold and abnormal temperature drops impact livestock, crops, and the families that dedicate their lives to growth and production, including delays in spring planting.
With potential for less fresh crops available, patrons in grocery store isles across America may be find themselves in search of a healthy and sustainable alterative.
In honor of National Frozen Food Month, we spotlight the benefits to selecting frozen when items are out of season, considerations as you read package labels, and how to get the most nutritional bang for your buck in the frozen foods isle.
The Better Alternative: Frozen Versus Canned
Fresh produce is often touted as the best of the bunch. Picked when ripe (or just before), these items then make their journey to your local grocery. It is great if you are able to use them immediately, but produce unfortunately does not remain fresh forever. Could there be advantages to options with longer shelf lives?
Canned items go through a thermal treatment process, which helps eliminate unwanted microorganisms from food. While good, the downside is that heat can also cause a slight decline in nutritional value. Unless your produce of choice is canned tomato, you can expect to see a 10-90 percent total loss in Vitamin C, with hits to a variety of other key nutrients.
Frozen items also go through a slight heat wave, which causes an initial loss of Vitamin B and C, but without as much nutritional loss as canning.
Label Considerations: What To Read
The next time you peruse the frozen isle for a quick meal, fruit, or vegetable option, take the time to flip the package over, and gain insight into its ingredient list and nutritional contents. These two areas are where you should direct your eyes:
- Ingredients: Look for packages that list as few ingredients as possible. You should know what each of the ingredients are, and be able to pronounce their names. Ideally, frozen produce should contain only one ingredient.
- Sodium: Partially critical for frozen meals,pay attention to sodium (salt) levels. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans consume too much sodium as part of their daily diets. It is recommended that persons without pre-existing conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, etc.) should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day with their food intake.
The Cream of the Crop: Best Items to Find Frozen
Selection of which items to pick fresh, and which to pick frozen, will be entirely dependent on immediate need or availability.
Should you decide to go frozen, do not fear that the item you will consume is going to be of a lower quality—in fact it might be quite the opposite! Some studies show that fresh and frozen vegetables can contain nearly the same nutritional composition. Items are frozen just as they ripen, which allows them to retain peak nutritional values that can be lost with age.
As you go through and make your frozen selections, keep in mind the following veggies, which can really pack a nutritional punch:
- Red Peppers: Full of antioxidants, Vitamin B6, magnesium, and 300 percent of your daily Vitamin C intake, red peppers also boost your metabolism and improve your night vision.
- Onions: Known as a healer, onions protect your body against infection, cure against fever and the common cold, and are full of sulfur, fiber, potassium, Vitamin B and Vitamin C.
- Broccoli: Lowers your risk for bladder cancer, reverses diabetes heart damage, protects your skin from negative UV light impacts, and helps prevent osteoarthritis.
- Spinach: Addition of this veggie into your diet is linked to anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as positive impacts on blood pressure, vision, skin, bones, and brain health.
- Carrots: Linked to prevention of multiple forms of cancer, including leukemia, this “ultimate health food” also aids against, and helps restore, vision loss.
Which items do you freeze or prefer to purchase frozen? Share in the comment section below.