Healthy Debate: Frozen vs. Fresh Veggies

And the winner is…farm fresh veggies! But don’t count out the frozen ones -- there’s a time and place for them too. Find out the advantages of using frozen veggies and what you should be looking for when buying them at the market.

And the winner is… fresh veggies! Direct-from-the-farm fresh, if possible. But that doesn't mean you should count out the frozen ones. There’s a time and place for them too. Find out the advantages of each and how the nutritional benefits vary.

When Fresh Isn’t Always Best

Some conventional veggies get shipped for miles across the country -- a trip that can take days and cause their nutrients to diminish over time. After riding in trucks, vegetables then sit on supermarket shelves, where they’re exposed to air and water misters -- another way that vitamins get destroyed.

The freshest produce choice is locally grown options from your farmers' market. The fruits and veggies are picked and sold when their quality is best (they are usually a better price, too!).

When to Choose Frozen

Manufacturers freeze vegetables at the peak of their freshness to preserve the nutritional value. Frozen produce is great to keep around in case you run low on fresh or if there are limited offerings at supermarket due to seasonality. They're especially convenient when you don’t have time to clean and chop (it happens to the best of us). I toss frozen peas into my stew and last week I ran out of fresh broccoli and turned to my emergency frozen bag.

Preserving the Vitamins

Vitamins in food are easily destroyed by heat, exposure to air, oxygen and water and changes in pH balances. Here are some ways to maintain the vitamins in the fresh or frozen veggies you cook:

  • Use as little water as possible when cooking: Steaming and stir-frying are two great methods.
  • Cook quickly over low heat: Cook veggies until just tender and avoid overcooking.
  • Never add baking soda: It brightens the green color in veggies, but destroys thiamine and vitamin C.
  • Cut and cook veggies in large chunks: The smaller the pieces, the more exposure to air. This tends to destroy vitamins A, D, E, K and the Bs.
  • Cook veggies as soon as possible after cutting: This will minimize the time exposed

to air.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Tomato Debate: Fresh vs. Cooked

You may know that the more you cook a food, the more you destroy its nutrients, but is that true for tomatoes? Not exactly. In fact, some nutrients increase when you cook tomatoes, while others drop off.

Healthy Debate: Should You Choose Organic?

Is it worth the extra cost to buy organic or does healthy conventionally grown food trump pesticide free?

Healthy Debate: Are Detox Diets Safe?

Sure, it's tempting to try a detox or cleanse diet after all that Thanksgiving turkey, but are they safe? Here's what experts at the American Dietetic Association's recent Food and Nutrition Expo had to say about these controversial diets.

Healthy Debate: Is Your Juice Safe?

Recently, a California environmental group found that juice drinks and packaged fruit contained lead above the allowable level. Find out what this advocacy group discovered and what the FDA is telling consumers. We’ll let you decide.

Healthy Debate: Chocolate Verses White Milk

Sweet chocolate milk is causing bitter cafeteria showdowns around the country. School lunch advocates who want the chocolate stuff nixed from the cafeteria menu say it packs almost as much sugar as soda, but others say it's better for kids to drink chocolate milk than no milk at all.

Healthy Debate: Should Happy Meal Toys Be Banned?

Whoever came up with the marketing for Happy Meals toys is a genius. Kids are drawn to popular characters and love their trinkets ( more than the food). But with this type of marketing comes a price—especially when you’re talking about high fat and calorie-laden food during a time where tremendous efforts are being put forth to diminish the incidence of childhood obesity.

Healthy Debate: Should You Avoid Food Dyes?

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is calling for a ban on several of the most common food dyes, saying they lead to hyperactivity in children. Last week, however, the FDA claimed the evidence wasn’t strong enough to warrant a ban. Here's the latest on this hot debate.

Reading List: Organic Debate Continues, Heart-Healthy Chocolate and Tap Water Safety

In this week’s nutrition headlines: a study finds that organic foods are the healthier choice, new fiber-fortified products are on the market, and more good news for chocolate fans and the sweet's heart-healthy benefits.