Can frozen foods be part of a healthy diet? You bet they can. Research has found that frozen food – especially vegetables and fruit – is just as good and even sometimes better – than fresh foods. That’s because veggies and fruits chosen for freezing are processed at their peak of ripeness – a time when they are most nutrient-packed. Take for example, Wild Blueberries. They are harvested at the peak of ripeness and frozen within 24 hours, locking in their incredible taste and nutrition.
To celebrate National Nutrition and Frozen Food Month, we’ve asked several nutrition and healthy foods experts what they think about fresh vs. frozen foods. Here’s what a few of our favorite registered dietitians had to say.
According to Liz Ward, MS, RD, of Better is the New Perfect, the importance of eating enough fruits and vegetables can be challenging with fresh produce that can spoil quickly. Frozen is a healthy and nutritious alternative to fresh and being frozen; it’s ready when you are. “When buying frozen, check labels and look for plain (without sauce or added salt or sugar, for example) fruits and vegetables,” she says. “They are as nutritious, or even more nutritious, than fresh. That’s because frozen food is processed within hours of being picked or harvested (like seafood and Wild Blueberries), preserving flavor, quality, and nutrition.”
Kit Broihier, MS, RD, LD Nutrition Advisor for the Wild Blueberry Association of North America agrees, “In general, the research shows that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh.” Kit adds, “Fruits and vegetables are picked and frozen quickly—typically at the peak of quality and ripeness—so all that goodness is preserved in the freezing process.”
“Frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh!” says Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT, of The Food Dietitian. “Frozen produce is frozen at peak ripeness, locking in all of those nutrients and antioxidants.” That’s just one great reason why you can find Wild Blueberries all year long in the frozen aisle of your local supermarket. Also, because Wild Blueberries are such a small berry, they are very delicate, and it is nearly impossible for them to make the long trek to the fresh produce section of markets outside of the Wild Blueberry regions of Maine, Eastern Canada, and Quebec.
Wild Blueberries are a much smaller blueberry than their cultivated cousins, but what they lack in size, they make up for in flavor and nutrition. Their ability to thrive in the cold harsh climates of Maine and Eastern Canada is why they are so full of flavor and nutrition. Wild Blueberries are loaded with anthocyanins, a compound that gives plants their rich red, blue and purple colors, and more and more research is revealing that it’s the blue in Wild Blueberries that provide all their positive health benefits. Additionally, Wild Blueberries also contain 32% less sugar, eight times the manganese, and 72% more fiber per serving than regular, cultivated blueberries. And let’s not forget, Wild Blueberries taste AMAZING! A combination of sweet, tart and tangy flavors makes for an intense blueberry taste that just can’t be beat.
Keep that in mind the next time you go grocery shopping and be sure to take a stroll down the frozen aisle. You’ll find many different varieties of fruits and vegetables that have been flash frozen. To ensure you’re adding Wild Blueberries to your cart, look for the world WILD on the packaging. A trip to the Wild Blueberry barrens is not required to enjoy these special berries and because they are frozen you can find them all year long.
Our registered dietitian friends keep their freezers stocked full of frozen fruits including strawberries, cherries, mangos (and of course, Wild Blueberries). These items are readily available and grocery stores across the country and a convenient ingredient to have on hand. A few of their other favorite frozen foods include salmon, sweet corn, spinach, cooked brown rice, and shrimp. (Is anyone else getting hungry?) Also found in their freezers is a variety of extra meal portions, such as chili or stew, that are at the ready for a tasty, homemade meal that’s nutritious but without the work.
Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, of Real Mom Nutrition always has a stash of frozen fruit in her freezer. “In fact, I have an entire bin in my freezer dedicated to it! I use frozen berries, frozen peaches, and frozen bananas in smoothies and oatmeal almost daily.”
Danielle Omar, MS, RDN behind The Food Confidence blog, “loves” the convenience of always having what she needs on hand. Danielle also likes to be able to take advantage of sales, or buy in bulk, and freeze food for use later. “Whether it’s frozen Wild Blueberries for a smoothie or frozen salmon for dinner, it’s nice to know I’m always prepared!” If your life gets a little hectic, especially around meal time, think frozen! You and your family will be able to enjoy a nutritious homemade meal without the fuss!
If they haven’t convinced you of the benefits of buying frozen food, then here’s a few other good points to consider. Purchasing frozen foods is an easy way to save money at the grocery store, reduce food spoilage and waste in your home and ensure you always have convenient and nutritious ingredients on hand. “If you have frozen items at-the-ready,” Kit reminds us, “you can put together a nutritious and tasty meal in no time!”
Finally, we want to thank all the wonderful registered dietitians that we’ve met and worked with over the years. Wednesday, March 13, 2019, is National Registered Dietitian Day! We want to take this time to recognize and thank the RDs who play an important role in helping to educate you and your families about delicious Wild Blueberries and who create so many of our delicious recipes. They are a big part of what it takes to make healthy eating easy and accessible for all of us. Thank you!