Everyone benefits from eating more fruits and vegetables as they are packed with naturally occurring antioxidants, phyto-nutrients, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, water, complex carbohydrates and more.
Some are even cancer fighters
There has been plenty of research to show that people who eat lots of fruits and vegetables every day as part of a healthful diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases as well as increased energy. Vegetables in particular are mostly and naturally low in calories so that there is virtually no limit to how many you can eat if you are watching your weight.
But is there a big difference between fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables?
Frozen fruit and veggies are very much a modern day convenience and are mostly considered by concerned buyers to be only slightly second best to the local and fresh versions of fruit and vegetables. In fact many would argue that fresh produce that is quickly frozen for optimum nutrient retention could have the edge over fresh produce that has to travel to reach our local suppliers.
Are we kept in the dark about how safe such frozen food really is?
Many of us are careful to look for organic both in our fresh and frozen purchases but it not only matters how the spinach, peas, raspberries or strawberries are grown, it also matters how they are frozen.
Commercial and conventional frozen methods can include synthetic preservatives and food dyes so that even when choosing organic brands, this completely rules out the safety aspect that we thought we were buying.
It is said that chemicals are used in frozen foods to make them look fresher, greener and “straight from the farm' when thawed.
For example, sulphites or sulfites are often used to maintain the colour of frozen veggies although in the USA, any added sulfites must be listed on the packaging. Reactions to sulfites include asthma attacks, loss of consciousness, anaphylactic shock, diarrhea and nausea.
Other chemicals that may be used in frozen fruits and vegetables are preservatives like propyl gallate, BHA and BHT (which has been banned in the UK) and of course sodium nitrate.
Serious side effects of such chemicals can harm the nervous system, cause brain damage, chromosome damage, disrupt the hormones, cause and irritate allergies and even lead to cancer. Artificial colorings can add to hyperactivity in children, impaired learning and visual functions and nerve damage.
It becomes imperative to read the labels on frozen vegetables and fruits to see if anything has been added during the process while remembering that non organic are highly likely to be harboring pesticides and other nasties from the growing process as well. Read the labels to find out if additional chemicals or processing formulas were used in the product, which could affect the nutritional content. Sodium is often added for taste and any vegetables prepared in a sauce will contain high amounts of preservatives.
Vegetables frozen onsite and kept frozen should not need any preservatives
But that does not mean it won't happen.
Be particularly wary of imported frozen food as toxic chemicals that might be illegal in the USA are not necessarily illegal in other countries. Their labels may fail to reflect any such chemicals, additives or preservatives.
A few more points to remember when buying and consuming frozen fruit and vegetables
1. Frozen vegetables sometimes sit in store freezers for weeks which will deplete whatever nutrients are left after being processed with these chemicals. Over time nutritional values in frozen vegetables do reduce so it is recommended that frozen vegetables be consumed within six months from the initial freezing process.
2. Frozen foods are often packaged in plastic (another "carcinogen") and petroleum products which can allow toxins to leach into the foods.
3. Check the grades of frozen vegetables as the best quality will be 'US Fancy', followed by 'U.S. no.1' and then 'U.S. no.2'. The USDA grade "U.S. Fancy" on the packaging is said to indicate the best vegetables, the highest in nutrition and usually the ripest and largest of the crop.
Everywhere you look we are being encouraged to eat more vegetables and fruit. Fresh vegetables and fruit, organically grown in your own garden or bought locally from farmers markets and other suppliers (that support farmers in the area) are always healthier than frozen. I would suggest a back up strategy of organically grown and frozen fruits and veggies after carefully checking the labels or even going online to the company's website.
Going this route will help to protect you and your family from a whole host of diseases and medical conditions so you get to live longer and more healthily.