If your only experience with frozen vegetables is a bag of peas on a bruise or black eye, you’re not alone. Most people prefer a fresh and ready-to-eat vegetable side compared to one you have to prepare.
However, a substantial reason people buy frozen vegetables is their longevity. When stored properly in a freezer, some frozen vegetables can last up to a year before beginning to turn bad.
They’re typically cheaper, last longer, and are easy to prepare. So why don’t people only buy frozen vegetables instead of fresh ones?
Most people know that vegetables are good for you, but not everyone knows precisely how or why. The vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they provide are unlike any food in the world relative to their size and price.
Let’s say you go to the grocery store looking for peas. Depending on where you live, fresh peas can be hard to come by or too expensive if they’re out of season. Instead of searching for an alternative or going home empty-handed, head over to the frozen section.
You’ll find frozen peas year-round, and they will often taste just as good as fresh peas after they’re adequately prepared.
Freshness is just one of the many benefits of frozen vegetables. But, if they’re frozen, does that mean there will be less nutritional value? How do their health benefits compare to fresh vegetables? Are frozen vegetables healthy at all?
Read on for answers to these questions and more. It’s important to know what you’re putting into your body, and we’ve got you covered.
Most frozen vegetables have just as many vitamins and minerals as their fresh counterparts.
Usually, frozen vegetables are stored immediately after harvesting. At this point, vegetables contain the most nutrients during their lifespan.
Freezing vegetables as soon as they’re picked allows for the most nutrients to be preserved for an extended period.
That said, freezing vegetables can still decrease their vitamin and other nutrient content.
This nutritional decrease is because immediately after these vegetables are harvested, they go through a process called blanching. This is the process of quickly boiling vegetables in hot water to eliminate the dirt and bacteria attached to the vegetable after they’re picked.
While blanching is necessary to preserve most frozen vegetables' quality, flavor, and color, some vitamins and minerals take a big hit.
Vitamin C, which helps the growth and repair of body tissues, can decrease after blanching.
But, blanching does help to preserve a lot of other vitamins and nutrients, so the loss is usually mitigated. Also, some frozen vegetables can increase in vitamin C after being frozen, so it truly depends on the process and the vegetable itself.
Additionally, some frozen vegetable brands tend to add many unhealthy ingredients to make for “easy-to-make” sides, but this can counteract the health factor of your frozen veggies.
You can easily find brands that sell frozen vegetables in their purest form, but you should be on the lookout for ones that add things like salt, butter, sauces, and other toppings that may increase the calorie, sugar, and sodium count.
Frozen vegetables are strikingly similar in nutritional value to fresh vegetables. Some vitamins are lost, but other nutrients' preservation and subsequent boost help to even it out. Be careful which brand you select and pay close attention to the nutrition labels.
Let’s look at how frozen and fresh vegetables compare.
It can be challenging for some people to access clean, fresh vegetables. Many vegetables will be unavailable for long periods or gain a significant price bump during certain seasons, depending on where you live.
Because frozen vegetables stay fresh for significantly longer, you may have a wider selection of veggies to choose from if you check in the freezer section of your grocery store.
If you’re a fan of meal prepping (the method of planning what foods you’ll eat throughout the week) frozen foods may be particularly efficient for you.
For example, let’s say it’s Sunday and you’re beginning to write down what meals you’ll eat and when. If you’re planning on making a meal with peas, broccoli, carrots, or others on the following Saturday, chances are some of the ingredients might not be fresh, or at least not as high in nutrients.
Instead of buying the vegetables fresh, storing them in the fridge for almost a week, and cooking them after they’ve lost some of their flavor, color, and even nutritional value, try the frozen section instead. The vegetables will be fresh and easy to prepare no matter when you eat them.
You can say the same thing if you go to the store to buy vegetables for a meal that you’re planning to cook that day or the day after. Things happen, and you don’t want to waste money on foods you might not use, especially if the vegetable is high priced because of the season.
Frozen vegetables can make for an excellent snack — all you have to do is cook them as desired. Instead of a bowl of buttered popcorn or candy when you’re sitting down to watch your favorite movie or show, try a bowl of salted or buttered peas or edamame.
The answer is an astounding yes. There isn’t a big enough difference to classify frozen vegetables as unhealthy compared to fresh ones. It all depends on what’s convenient for you regarding price, time, and quality.
Now that you know how great frozen vegetables are, you’re probably just as tempted as we are to go straight to the store and start experimenting with different meal combinations.
Before you head out, here are our favorite frozen vegetables with some suggestions for good ways to prepare and eat them.
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