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Fresh vs. Frozen vs. Canned: Are Frozen Vegetables and Fruit Better Than Fresh?

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Unlike other trends that come and go, picking plants as the stars of your plate is more of a long-term lifestyle than a fad diet. Foods derived from plants have been appearing in our diets for centuries, but as we became more reliant upon packaged foods, less of us visit the produce aisle.

(Getty Images)

Admittedly, I spend most of my shopping time picking vegetables and fruits. I’m drawn to their different shapes, sizes, colors and, of course, their many uses and health benefits. My personal favorite section of the store is the produce aisle. For me, it’s the jewel in the crown of the supermarket. It celebrates the season, it’s the most colorful and it holds the most foods that don’t even need to wear food labels for them to show you what they’re all about.

Fresh vs. Frozen vs. Canned: Are Frozen Vegetables and Fruit Better Than Fresh?

It would seem like the produce aisle would be easiest to navigate since we only have to do picking without reading, but even choosing produce can leave us perplexed. In my book “Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table,” I guide consumers through the thousands of confusing and overwhelming food labels we face every time we shop, and in every aisle. But don’t rule out picking produce from the middle aisles – the canned and frozen food aisles. In fact, these foods can save you time, money and storage space without compromising nutritional value.

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Health Benefits of Plants

Besides fresh, produce is found throughout the store in a variety of other forms: frozen, canned and even dried. You would think that having a multitude of options to choose from would encourage us to pick plants at every meal. However, 81% of Americans aren’t getting enough fruits in their diet and 90% aren’t getting enough vegetables, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s What We Eat in America study.

Is Fresh Produce Healthier?

Whether fresh, frozen or canned, the produce you pick will provide nutritional benefits no matter how you buy them – as long as you eat them. And if buying them frozen, means you’re more likely to eat broccoli, then go for it! What’s key is being able to have fruits and veggies at your fingertips for any meal or snack without having to run to the supermarket.

When it comes to picking produce, it’s often assumed fresh is best, but that’s not always the case.

Surveys have shown that when it comes to the main drivers for why we choose the foods we eat, taste rules, followed by convenience, health value and cost. (The last two are interchangeable.) And with rising food costs these days, for many of us, keeping grocery expenses down is key.

Keeping those demands in mind, there are times when fresh just may not work for you, depending upon storage at home, your budget, proximity to your store, your schedule and your taste preferences.

Produce for Better Health Foundation data demonstrates that consumers who have all forms of fruits and vegetables available in their homes also have the highest produce consumption overall. But since not all produce is alike, let’s take a closer look at the various ways you can pick produce to satisfy what your body needs and your taste buds crave.

From a nutritional standpoint, sometimes frozen is better because it’s picked at its peak of ripeness in contrast to fresh produce that may have travelled many miles to get to your store. And some valuable nutrients (like the lycopene in canned tomatoes) are even better absorbed in their canned/cooked version than fresh. Most importantly, buy what you will enjoy, what you have space for and what you can afford.

Pros and Cons of Different Forms of Produce

At the end of the day, any produce is better than none. Consult this guide for the pros and cons of each form of produce.

(U.S. News)

The bottom line is that, just like your plate, your supermarket cart should mostly be filled with fruits and veggies to help you deliciously fuel your body and brain and stay healthy.

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Bernard Greenhall
Bernard Greenhall

Bernard is a sports and physical education expert with years of experience. He's passionate about promoting health and wellness through physical activity, and he's worked with athletes and non-athletes alike to help them achieve their fitness goals. Bernard holds a degree in Physical Education and is dedicated to staying up-to-date with the latest trends and research in his field.

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