Frozen vegetables are often considered an affordable and convenient alternative to fresh vegetables. This article reviews whether frozen vegetables are healthy.
Frozen vegetables are often considered an affordable and convenient alternative to fresh vegetables.
They’re usually not only cheaper and easier to prepare but also have a longer shelf life and can be purchased year-round.
However, you may be unsure whether frozen vegetables can be a healthy addition to a well-rounded diet.
This article reviews whether frozen vegetables are healthy.
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Because vegetables are usually frozen immediately after harvesting, they generally retain many of their nutrients.
In fact, one study showed that blanching and freezing vegetables for up to 2 months did not significantly alter their phytochemical content (1).
However, studies show that freezing may affect the nutritional value of certain vegetables and specific nutrients differently.
For example, one study found that frozen broccoli was higher in riboflavin, compared with fresh broccoli, whereas frozen peas were lower in this vitamin (2).
Additionally, while frozen peas, carrots, and spinach were lower in beta carotene, no significant difference was observed between frozen and fresh green beans and spinach (2).
Another study noted that frozen, uncooked kale contained a higher amount of antioxidants than fresh kale, suggesting that freezing may even increase the antioxidant content of certain vegetables (3).
On the other hand, blanching may also lead to significant decreases in heat-sensitive nutrients, including vitamin C and thiamine.
According to one review, the vitamin C content of certain vegetables could decrease by 10–80% during the blanching and freezing process, with an average nutrient loss of around 50% (4).
Keep in mind that other cooking methods, such as boiling, stir-frying, and microwaving, can likewise lead to nutrient losses, even in fresh or canned vegetables (5, 6).
Frozen vegetables generally retain many of their nutrients. However, freezing may also increase or decrease the nutritional value of certain vegetables.
When selecting frozen vegetables, it’s always important to check the ingredient label carefully.
Though most frozen vegetables are free of additives and preservatives, some may contain added sugar or salt.
Some frozen vegetables may also be paired with premade sauces or seasoning mixes, which can add flavor but may increase the amount of sodium, fat, or calories in the final product.
If you’re trying to cut back on calories or lose weight, you may want to skip frozen vegetables that contain high calorie toppings like garlic butter, cheese sauce, or gravy.
Additionally, those with high blood pressure may also want to check the sodium content of frozen veggies carefully and pick products without added salt.
Studies show that decreasing sodium intake can help reduce blood pressure levels, especially in those with high blood pressure (7, 8).
Although most frozen vegetables are free of additives and preservatives, some types may contain added salt, sugar, seasonings, or sauces.
Frozen vegetables can often be prepared with minimal effort, making them a quick and convenient alternative to fresh vegetables.
They’re also typically cheaper than fresh vegetables and tend to have a longer shelf life, helping you get the most bang for your buck.
What’s more, they’re available year-round, meaning that you can enjoy your favorite veggies regardless of whether they’re in season.
Adding frozen vegetables to your diet is a simple way to increase your intake of important nutrients, including fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals (9).
Plus, studies show that increasing your intake of vegetables may be associated with a lower risk of conditions like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and more (9, 10, 11, 12).
Frozen vegetables are convenient, affordable, and available year-round. Increasing your intake of vegetables may also be associated with several health benefits.
Though there may be slight variations between different vegetables and specific nutrients, frozen vegetables typically retain most of their nutritional value.
The way that you cook frozen vegetables can also affect their nutrient content, as well as whether they contain any added sugar, salt, or premade sauces and seasonings.
However, for the most part, frozen vegetables can be a nutritious and convenient addition to a balanced diet.
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