Fresh is best - that’s what they always say. But in challenging times, like a pandemic, processed foods can definitely be a staple in the pantry.
NOT ALL PROCESSED FOODS ARE BAD.
We often associate processed foods as junk foods, filled with excess fat, salt and sugar. However, processed foods are defined as “Any food that has been altered in some way during preparation”. This could also refer to processes such as: drying, freezing, and canning. (Harvard School of Public Health)
Now that you have a clearer perspective on what processed foods mean, take a look around your kitchen.
Got milk? - That’s been processed by way of pasteurisation in order to remove harmful bacteria.
How about oil? - Seeds, nuts, or plants have been pressed and refined to produce this cooking staple.
See? The variety of processed foods is wider than you think.
But don’t worry if you’ve swiped left on frozen fruits or vegetables during your grocery haul, this study shares that fresh produce oftentimes sell better than their frozen counterparts. This is due to beliefs that frozen foods are “unnatural” and therefore less healthy, have lower amounts of nutrients, and don’t taste as good. (Appetite, 2018)
Let’s break the ice on frozen produce.
These products are usually frozen at peak freshness, which means that level of freshness is retained after the freezing process. That gives you consistent, quality, flavour, and food safety.
Research has shown that when it comes to nutritional value, there are no significant differences when it comes to frozen and fresh produce. You’ll still be getting the same amount of beneficial vitamins and minerals that are found in fruits and vegetables.
In some cases, frozen produce has been found to have a significantly higher nutrient content when compared to fresh produce stored in the refrigerator for over 5 days!
All in all, frozen produce are a more affordable, convenient, and flexible way to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. The longer shelf life also means food wastage is reduced and you can prepare as little or as much as required.
Adlyn Abdul Halim
Key words: nutrition, vitamins, food, grocery, cooking, recipe, meal prep, fruit, vegetable, my healthy plate
The Nutrition Source, Processed Foods and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, viewed 30th March 2020, <hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/processed-foods/>.
Connell, PM, Finkelstein, SR, Scott, ML, Vallen, B, 2018, ‘Negative associations of frozen compared with fresh vegetables’, Appetite, vol. 127, pp. 296-302.
Li, L, et al., 2017, ‘Selected nutrient analyses of fresh, fresh-stored, and frozen fruits and vegetables’, Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, vol. 59, pp. 8-17.