Frozen Veggies - Is Fresh Always Best?
Updated: Oct 13, 2021
While not everybody has the time, money, or ability to regularly access fresh vegetables from their local green grocer, farmers market, or grow them at home themselves, looking at more practical ways to incorporate more veggies into our daily diets is critical. With less than 10% of Australian children and adults reportedly meeting the recommended guidelines for five serves of vegetables each day. But you may be wondering does eating frozen vegetables count towards my daily veggie intake? Are they as healthy as fresh vegetables? Is there a difference in taste? Are they more expensive than fresh veg? While fresh and frozen vegetables have their pros and cons, finding a balance suitable to your lifestyle, budget, taste preferences, etc., can help you to decide how best to incorporate both fresh and frozen vegetables into your diet.
NUTRITIONAL PROFILE OF FRESH VS. FROZEN VEG
Frozen vegetables are often perceived to be less healthy than fresh veg, however, nutritionally, there is little difference between both. While freshly picked vegetables typically have the highest amounts of vitamins and minerals, they begin to lose nutrients soon after they are picked, spending time in transit and storage, which can take days or weeks for vegetables to get from the farm to your table. Frozen veggies on the other hand, are normally blanched and frozen shortly after harvest, helping to preserve nutrients and texture. As a result, frozen veggies typically typically do not need preservatives. While blanching does degrade some vitamins (vitamin C in particular), this has been found to be in line with what happens when fresh vegetables are cooked.
COST & SHELF LIFE OF FRESH VS. FROZEN VEG
While fresh and frozen vegetables have similar nutrition profiles,they differ when it comes to shelf-life and cost, with frozen vegetables tending to cost less and having a longer shelf-life. The limited shelf life of fresh vegetables often makes it difficult for people to keep an abundance of fresh produce to hand, and for particular groups, such as those living in low socio-economic, or remote areas, access to fresh produce can be inconsistent and difficult. Given that national statistics report that the majority of people are under consuming vegetables, frozen veggies may be a cost-effective and convenient option to help people increase their vegetable intake. Ensure you store your vegetables properly in the freezer - if using only a portion of the frozen veggies, be sure to double bag the remainder, by using a plastic freezer bags to help prevent your veggies from getting freezer burn.
COOKING METHODS FOR FROZEN VEG
To keep the nutrition locked of frozen vegetables in, it is best to use cooking methods such as steaming or microwaving when cooking, to minimise heat and water losses of key vitamins, including vitamin C, folate, and thiamine. However, having said that you can cook frozen veggies different ways, with most coming with instructions on how to prepare them.
Frozen vegetables are so versatile, so the next time you are cooking, why not try adding frozen veg to the following recipes:
So, as you can see frozen veggies are a nutritious, cost-effective and convenient alternative to fresh vegetables, making them a suitable back-up option to have in your freezer, offering a convenient and practical way to get more vegetables into your daily diet.