Frozen vegetables are cheap and extremely convenient. This is particularly the case now that they sell individual steam bag portions that you can throw straight into the microwave for a few minutes. However, I regularly get asked whether they are as nutritious as fresh vegetables. Many people find it difficult to use the fresh ones in time and they perish. The good news is, yes, they are just as nutritious.
Two large reviews of the published scientific literature on the subject found that frozen vegetables (and canned for that matter) are just as nutritious as fresh ones.
The researchers compared the different amounts of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients. While there is some variability depending on how the frozen vegetables were processed — high heat can degrade some nutrients, for example — the authors concluded that “nutrients are generally similar in comparable fresh and processed products.
The only thing to keep in mind when shopping for your frozen veggies is that nothing additional has been added. Unfortunately some manufacturers may add sodium or sugars which really aren’t necessary.
Check the label to see if the package lists salt or sugar as an ingredient. It should just say the type of vegetable it is, nothing more.
I looked through the nutrition facts on canned, frozen, and fresh corn to compare the three, and the canned corn listed “corn, water, and salt,” as ingredients.
This gave the canned corn 144 milligrams (mg) of sodium in a single 90 gram serving, compared to 0 mg for the same amount of frozen corn and 10 mg for the fresh corn. Eating it from the can means that half a cup of corn would account for over 6% of your daily sodium limit.
The sodium content would vary between brands. If going for a tinned vegetable, look for the ones that state they have no added salt.
So all in all, frozen vegetables can be a good addition to the shopping list. Often people will worry so much about a potential decrease in nutritive value that they will avoid frozen vegetables – unfortunately they don’t even replace these with the fresh ones and so they really miss out. If they’re always on hand, they can be a great way to get your daily servings.
Convenience, in this case, can pay off.