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Turnip the Beet! Nutrition and Wellness

Timely news, information, and innovative ideas to promote health and influence change.
frozen produce 2

Warm Up to Frozen Produce

What are your perceptions of frozen fruits and vegetables and how do you feel about them compared to the fresh variety?

When looking at data on in-home consumption of fruits and vegetables (F & V) of various forms, frozen falls far behind store fresh and several other forms (see charts below). No matter what the source, F & V consumption has been on the decline since 2009.ยน

Losses are tied to key behaviors:

  • Decline in vegetable side dish at dinner
  • Decline in fruit juice consumption at breakfast
  • Fewer older Americans including fruit as a dessert
  • Increase consumption of ready-to-eat or frozen main dishes
  • Americans are using fewer ingredients to prepare meals at home

In addition to these behaviors, a common misconception I hear during my programs is that frozen F & V are less nutritious than their fresh counterparts.

On the Contrary, Frozen is Nutritious!

In a recent study conducted by the University of Georgia, researchers compared nutrient concentrations of selected fresh and frozen F & V as well as "fresh-stored" (five days of refrigeration). What they found did not support this common misconception. In fact, the frozen varieties outperformed the fresh, especially after several days of storage. In other words, fresh varieties quickly lose important nutrients during storage so if you are unable to eat them right away, it's probably a good idea to stock up on frozen produce, too.

Other reasons to love your frozen F & V:

  • They are easy to prepare- many come in "steam fresh" bags for a quick side dish on busy nights
  • They are a good value- often lower in cost per serving and have a great shelf life
  • They help reduce food waste- they are easy to portion and store resulting in less food waste
  • Recent research also suggests that adult consumers of frozen F & V have lower BMI's (body mass index) and higher intakes of "nutrients of concern" like potassium and dietary fiber.

Tips for Incorporating More Frozen F & V:

  • Make a breakfast smoothie with fruits, vegetables or both! They are a great replacement for ice and add important nutrients at the same time.
  • Try different steam-fresh vegetables either as a side dish or appetizer. Edamame in the pod is one of my favorites.
  • Spruce up your casseroles, soups, one-pot dinners, taco salads, and even mac n' cheese nights by adding a bag of frozen vegetables into the mix.
  • Out of jam? Turn a bag of frozen fruit into freezer jam in a few easy steps. Here is an Uncooked Berry Jam recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Here are 20 More Ways to Enjoy Fruits and Vegetables (PDF)

1. State of the Plate- 2015 Study on America's Consumption of Fruit & Vegetables
2. Frozen Food Foundation
3. CDC

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