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Each semester I have fun in my Sports Nutrition class asking if canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are as good for you as fresh.  A vast majority of the class is adamant that canned and frozen cannot be as good for you as fresh.  However, I beg to differ.

“Fresh” fruits and vegetables you get in the grocery stores are actually picked when they are still unripe and ripen on their way to the store (unless you are shopping at a co-op or farmer’s market).  Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and processed.  So, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables can be as good for you as fresh . . .with a couple of caveats.

First, canned vegetables tend to have a lot of salt.  Read the label to find one that is lower in sodium.  You can also eliminate some of the sodium by rinsing the vegetables in a colander before cooking or eating.

Second, check that canned fruits are canned in juice – not syrup.  Yeah, the syrup is sweeter, but it adds calories.  If you are going to eat fruit, eat the fruit not the syrup.

Third, you have to watch the sauces in many frozen vegetables.  Many manufacturers will add butter and/or cheese sauces to their veggies.  Again, read the labels and look for increased fat and read the descriptions.

Two things I love with frozen vegetables is that I don’t have to worry about them spoiling as fast as fresh (OK – I can’t keep them forever, although I keep trying).  And, I can have steamed veggies in a couple of minutes in the microwave.  Just put them in a bowl with one or two tablespoons of water, cover leaving a vent, and microwave for two to four minutes – or until done.  YUM!

Although it isn’t spring yet, you can still enjoy fruits and vegetables.  Just head for the freezer and the canned aisles of your local grocery store.

By the way, if you want to know how long you can keep frozen foods, check here.

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