fresh vs frozen vs canned vegetables

Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned Vegetables

By Danny Webber
Danny Webber is a SENr registered practitioner, an ISAK certified Anthropometrist and a UK Anti-Doping accredited adviser.
| Updated on August 24, 2021


Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned Vegetables

Fresh Vegetables

Environmental factors such as soil quality, season, weather, farming methods and storage conditions/duration can influence nutrient content.

Frozen Vegetables

frozen-vegetables Frozen vegetables are typically blanched in hot water for a couple of minutes before freezing.

So, are frozen vegetables bad? Not really, frozen vegetables can be part of a healthy eating plan. But, if possible, it is better to eat fresh vegetables. This blanching process is to inactivate enzymes that may cause unfavourable changes in colour, smell and nutritional value. Blanching can release and breakdown some vitamins and minerals but is unlikely to significantly worsen the quality of the produce.

So, are frozen vegetables bad? No, they certainly are not and can be part of a healthy eating plan as they retain their nutrients from when they were picked. How you cook them may greater impact their nutritional quality, but that’s the same with fresh vegetables.

Canned Vegetables

Canned vegetables may undergo slighlty more processing however their nutrient content is still very valuable compared to fresh and frozen vegetables. As well as blanching they can be preserved in sugary syrups, contain added salts and other additives which carry their own health risks e.g. increased cancer risk.

Several forms of processing can also breakdown essential nutrients i.e. nitrates (from beetroot) almost entirely.

Recommended: Vegan Diet : Pros and Cons

Cooking Methods for Fresh, Frozen and Canned Vegetables

cooking-method How you cook food can influence the nutrient availability of certain foods. This helps release nutrients from the food for the body to absorb them more easily.

Some water soluble nutrients (e.g. B vitamins & vitamin C) may be lost during the cooking process of vegetables, but this will not completely destroy the quality of the food. In fact, cooking some foods enhances their antioxidant capacity, particularly beta-carotene from carrots, lycopene from tomatoes and lutein from broccoli and courgette.

Take Home Messages

vegetable-cooking-method How you cook your vegetables, whether they’re fresh, frozen or canned will determine the overall nutrient quality. Cook your vegetables with minimal water & oil to retain more nutrients e.g. steam/slow cook/casserole/roasted.

Choose the vegetables that are going to get you to eat them. Eating any form of vegetables means you’ll obtain some nutrients. Do what works for you!!

Also, learn about the usefulness of other processed foods from our article Is Diet Coke Better Than Regular Coke


Are canned fruit and vegetables healthy?

Although they may be slightly more processed than fresh and frozen vegetables, canned fruit and vegetables still retain key nutrients and cab be included as part of a healthy diet.

Are canned vegetables bad for you?

No. Canned vegetables still contain valuable nutrients to support a healthy diet.

Are you supposed to wash frozen vegetables?

Frozen vegetables do not need to be washed, as they can be cooked from frozen and added straight into meals such as casseroles.

Should you rinse canned vegetables?

Canned vegetables should be rinsed before eating as they can be higher in salt, but this isn’t essential.

Does canning destroy nutrients?

Canned fruits and vegetables may undergo more processing than frozen produce, which may destroy some compounds such as nitrates.

What’s the best way to cook frozen vegetables?

Steaming, microwaving or simply adding the vegetables into a pot of cooked food e.g. casserole/Bolognese, are the best methods of cooking. If microwaving, steaming and especially boiling, avoid cooking the vegetables for too long as this can result in lost nutrients.

Which frozen vegetables are best?

Just like fresh vegetables, a variety of different vegetables each day is the best way to maximize nutritional quality.

Are there any disadvantages of fresh vegetables?

Fresh vegetables are more likely to go off if left too long and this significantly reduces the nutrient content. Eating vegetables that have gone off will also make you ill.

Are Frozen Vegetables considered processed food?

Frozen fruit and vegetables may be blanched before being frozen in order to inactivate enzymes that may cause unfavorable changes in color, smell, flavor, and nutritional value.

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