Found Near You
By Nicole Spain, Registered Dietitian
Fresh, frozen, or canned produce – which is best?
Depending on the item, the “best” way to purchase your produce may differ. Some items are enhanced nutritionally with cooking, like tomatoes, while others lose their nutritional value when cooked. Here, I’ll take you through the best options for buying fruits and vegetables!
All produce is “best” nutritionally when picked or harvested when ripe, which is often difficult to do when it comes to selling fresh fruits and vegetables in stores. For example, have you ever bought green bananas? These bananas were picked well before they reached their peak nutritional value. This is done because there are many days needed between harvesting, transporting, and finally selling at your local store. Nutritionally, a banana picked when fully ripe would have more nutritional value than the banana picked when it was still green.
Unless we grow our own food or purchase directly from a farm, for many of us, picking our produce at peak ripeness is not an option. So, what is the next best option for buying produce?
One benefit of purchasing frozen fruits and vegetables is that they can be harvested when they are ripe and in season. Frozen produce is blanched (meaning it is cooked in hot water very quickly) which minimally affects the nutritional value. Fresh produce may often beat them out in terms of taste and quality, but not always! Frozen fruit is unbeatable in smoothies, and soups are often a forgiving base for frozen vegetables of all kinds.
Canned fruits and vegetables are budget friendly and will keep for a long time, so you’ll likely cut down on food waste and save money if you choose them. Additionally, there are some circumstances where frozen and even canned foods could offer more health benefits than fresh! For example, canned tomatoes offer something that fresh cannot – tomatoes are preserved using very high heat, which releases lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may help prevent prostate and breast cancer. And canned tomatoes make cooking a breeze: they’re already peeled and chopped!
Whichever way you choose to buy your produce, try to enjoy five servings of fruits and vegetables every day!