Introducing produce into your diet is key to staying healthy but keeping fresh produce around isn’t always convenient or realistic for a lot of us. Whether it doesn’t fit into your regular budget, you have trouble finding produce that’s seasonal, or it’s simply easier to store frozen or canned produce in your home, there’s always a concern on whether we’re giving up potential nutritional benefits.
So, if it comes down to the wire, is frozen or canned better? Are there produce options that are better frozen, or canned? We’ve laid a few tips for you here!
Frozen is the Chosen One
Frozen produce is going to be the next best thing to fresh in regards of nutrition- but if the option is canned or processed produce, still go for the canned if frozen isn’t available. Be sure to select sugar free, low sodium or sodium free options when going for can and drain or rinse the produce first.
However, you will find there are a few exceptions to the general rule of frozen over canned. Here’s a closer look at some produce options and their benefits
Oddly enough, since tomatoes are seasonal, canned tomatoes offer an option that fresh ones don’t. Tomatoes are preserved using heat which releases lycopene, known to help prevent prostate and breast cancer. Canned tomatoes are also easy as pie- they’re already peeled, chopped and ready to go.
In the case of tomatoes, canned is a safe bet!
Without a garden, frozen peas are a great solution. As soon as they’re picked, they’re frozen at the peak of their ripeness to prevent their precious sugars from turning to starch. This not only will help maintain the taste and texture but keeps the nutritional value!
For peas, keep it frozen!
Spinach is unique in comparison to other produce. If you plan to cook with spinach, frozen is going to give you more bang for your buck and you’ll find that it offers more than four times the amount of nutrients that fresh. This is due to the higher volume of spinach you can get in a frozen package versus fresh.
If you want to boost your meal with fiber, iron, and calcium, go with the frozen spinach!
If you can, go for the frozen option over canned. Canned fruits such as peaches or pineapple typically are canned in juice or syrup with a large amount of extra sugar. If fresh fruit isn’t in the cards, go for frozen!
What did we learn? Ultimately the way we shop or eat is not black and white, there are plenty of exceptions to all of these rules and there’s no one way for you to get the nutrition you need. Fresh produce isn’t all sunshine and rainbows either- it can lose some of its nutrients during transport or handling, can decompose easily, or be exposed to pesticides. There’s simply no way to consume perfect produce, even if we grow it ourselves!
Decide what works best for your life, your schedule, your dietary needs, and read labels.
For more health and nutrition tips, including healthy grocery shopping tips, subscribe to our blog!