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Dear Brand Doctor,
I am trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies into my diet. Frozen varieties seem to be cheaper and they do last longer, but are they as healthy as the fresh fruits and vegetables?
Hungry for Facts
Congratulations on making the effort to up your intake of fruits and veggies! This is a very wise move on your part. Far too many Americans skimp on these powerhouse foods and eat only a third (or less) of the recommended daily amount!
We understand that in this down economy pinching pennies at the grocery store is a must – after all, we work for a living too! We also know that fruits and veggies can be mighty expensive…especially during the winter months.
But here’s some good news you can take to the bank.
Frozen fruits and veggies are less expensive than what you’ll find in the produce department. AND…(drum roll please) in many cases they can be just as nutritious!
Here’s the eBrandAid take on the Fresh vs. Frozen debate:
A super variety of your grocer’s frozen fruits and veggies were picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen almost immediately. This process preserves much of the all-important nutritional makeup.
On the other hand, the “fresh” produce may have been picked before they’re fully ripened. These fruits and veggies can sit around in trucks and warehouses and travel across the country before they even make it to your local supermarket. By the time they reach your kitchen table they lose some of their nutritional benefits!
Bottom Line: In most cases, fresh fruits and veggies are the best way to go…especially if you can go organic or buy from a local farmers market. However, some frozen varieties finish a close second – and yes, they are good, less-expensive healthy choices!
Okay, so we’ve determined that frozen varieties of fruits and veggies can be good, healthy choices. Unfortunately, not all frozen brands and varieties are created equal!
It’s extremely important to follow the eBrandAid hard and fast rule: ALWAYS read the ingredients list – even when buying fruits and veggies. Manufacturers can, and do, sneak in undesirable and unnecessary ingredients.
Case in Point: Birds Eye Steamfresh Asian Medley
Nutrition Facts: Serving: 1 cup; Calories 50, Total Fat 2g, Sodium 310mg, Fiber 2g, Protein 2g
Ingredients: Broccoli, Carrots, Baby Cob Corn, Sugar Snap Peas Seasoning (Slat, Sugar, Dehydrated Onion, Maltodextrin, Dehydrated Garlic, Black Pepper), Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Flavor
When decoding the ingredients list you’ll find partially hydrogenated soybean oil (a code name for trans fat) is used in the seasoning. We’re guessing that the 2 grams of Total Fat comes mostly from the trans fat – eek!
Most of the Birds Eye Steamfresh Vegetable varieties come without sauce or seasonings – which are better options because they contain just the vegetables and no other additives. Folks, it pays to quick-scan the ingredients list!
Tap, sniff and squeeze our easy eBrandAid guidelines and tips for shopping for powerhouse frozen produce. We’ll always help you get the most bang for your nutritional buck!
eBrandAid Frozen Fruits ‘n Veggies Guidelines & Tips
- When buying frozen fruits, be sure the only ingredients listed are the fruits you’re buying. Avoid brands that include added sugars and syrups. Opt for frozen blueberries, raspberries and strawberries – they not only pack a super antioxidant punch, but are also great in smoothies!
- When buying veggies, it’s pretty much the same deal. Make sure the ingredients list names only the veggies you’re buying. Avoid varieties that come packaged with a sauce or seasoning. They are usually contain harmful additives like MSG and trans fats. If you need more taste, spruce up your veggies with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a little bit of real butter, or an eBrandAid-approved salad dressing.
- Another good reason to quick-scan the labels – you’ll want to find out where the fruit or veggie was grown. We suggest avoiding varieties that are stamped Product of China. Why? It’s a simple matter of weaker food safety standards. We recommend you shop for varieties grown here in the good ol’ USA. Note: If you don’t find a “country of origin” anywhere on the package, look for another brand.
Other helpful tips:
- If you really want to save money, check out the store brands; they can run as much as 50% less than the brand-name varieties.
- Look for bags in which you can feel the individual vegetables or fruits. A bag that feels like a block of ice has most likely been thawed and refrozen. Sure it’s safe to eat, but it may not taste very good.
- Frozen fruits and veggies last longer than their fresh counterparts, but we suggest you eat them within a few months of buying to avoid freezer burn.
Fun Fact: Most fruits and veggies are loaded with fiber, essential vitamins and minerals, and phytochemicals – substances thought to be a potent weapon against disease. Plus, they’re low in calories and fat, so they help you maintain your weight!
So, what are you waiting for? Load up on your favorite frozen produce on your next shopping excursion – your health and waistline will thank you for it!
Remember, when you’re armed with a little eBrandAid know-how, you’re in control at the grocery store.