When Planning Meals, Think Frozen
12/29/2014 03:06AM ● Published by Family Features
Research from the Journal of Nutrition found that nearly 80 percent of Americans do not consume the recommended amounts of fruit, and nearly 90 percent do not eat the recommended amount of vegetables. While a variety of factors may contribute to this low consumption, including cost and convenience, a recent study revealed one easy solution: frozen fruits and vegetables.
Fresh versus frozen
The University of California-Davis (UC Davis), in partnership with the Frozen Food Foundation, conducted an in-depth study to evaluate the nutrient content of eight commonly-purchased frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables: blueberries, strawberries, carrots, corn, broccoli, green beans, green peas and spinach. The research was designed to eliminate discrepancies in the harvesting, handling and storage of fruits and vegetables used in the analysis. Like produce found in farmers' markets, the fruits and vegetables used in the study were locally grown, harvested and stored by the UC Davis research team.
"The study was designed to mimic the quality of produce found at farmers' markets or grown in consumers' backyards," said UC Davis Lead Researcher Dr. Diane Barrett. "The study revealed that frozen produce is nutritionally equivalent, and often superior, to its fresh-stored counterpart. In particular, the vitamin C content of frozen corn, green beans and blueberries was significantly higher than their fresh-stored counterparts."
Tips to boost nutrient intake
For those looking to reap the nutritional benefits found in frozen foods, the Frozen Food Foundation offers these tips:
- Blend easy treats. Perfect for a quick, on-the-go breakfast or a sweet anytime treat, just add frozen fruit and your other favorite ingredients in the blender for a yummy smoothie.
- Prepare quick sides. Add color and flavor to lunch and dinner entrees by stocking your freezer with frozen vegetables. Frozen vegetables come peeled, pre-cut and ready to cook or eat. No washing or cutting is required, which saves time and reduces waste.
- Make the sensible choice. The portion-controlled packaging of many frozen entrées and sides make them the all-around clear choice for consumers seeking well-balanced nutritious meals for themselves and their families.
Freezing is simply nature's pause button. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and frozen at their peak ripeness, locking in the nutrient value at the point of freezing. Today's families don't need to sacrifice health to have a quick meal with quality ingredients. For more tips and tricks to enhance your family's diet, visit www.frozenfoodfacts.org.Photo courtesy of Getty Images