By Cara Rosenbloom, RD
There’s always nutrition research that’s up for debate — is saturated fat harmful or helpful? Is a low-fat or low-carb diet better? But the one thing all health professionals agree on is the importance of eating enough vegetables and fruit.
Filled with fiber, vitamins, minerals and important antioxidants, vegetables and fruit are known to help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Your best bet is to fill half your plate with colorful options at all of your meals, and anything goes. It does not matter if the vegetables are fresh, frozen or canned — what’s most important is that you eat them daily.
Go fresh: If you live in an area where fresh vegetables and fruits are economical and readily available all year round, stock up on your favorites and enjoy. Some hardy and affordable options are carrots, beets, squash, celery, pears, apples and broccoli. Buy berries in season and freeze them for later use.
Rely on frozen: Studies that test the vitamin content of fresh vs. frozen vegetables show that both are quite nutritious, with frozen options often edging out the fresh options. Why? Because frozen vegetables are picked and packed at the height of their nutrient value, and freezing locks in the vitamins. However, the vitamins in fresh vegetables may degrade while they are shipped and stored. Both are still nutritious options — so choose what you prefer.
Stock cans: Canned vegetables and fruit are economical and convenient, and they have a long shelf life. If possible, choose those with no added salt or sugar. Rinse those that have added salt or sugar.
Remember that canned and frozen vegetables are convenient and help reduce food waste because they last longer than fresh vegetables. They are all great choices.