Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned Vegetables
Environmental factors such as soil quality, season, weather, farming methods and storage conditions/duration can influence nutrient content.
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 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.
Cooking Methods for Fresh, Frozen and Canned Vegetables
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
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 Healthier Than Regular Coke