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Thanksgiving has always been viewed as the holiday where you indulge or overindulge, to be precise. But this year, you can include dishes filled with delicious frozen fruits and still satisfy your sweet tooth.
Moreover, as winter approaches, fresh food is becoming limited or expensive and many starts to turn to frozen food. It’s easy to find it and it will not break your budget.
But many questions are raised.
Is frozen food healthy? Does it provide good nutrients? Which frozen food should I buy?
But here’s the thing. In 1924, Clarence Birdseye invented two freezing methods, one of which we use today to produce the food we eat.
This is the truth. Some food loses flavor and vitamins when frozen, but freezing is an excellent way to keep the initial quality of the food and to preserve its nutritional value and texture. Moreover, if the food was fresh at the time of freezing and grown in a quality way (think organic), frozen food can be quite high in nutrients.
On the other hand, frozen dinners and frozen food have a bad reputation and for a good reason. Saturated fats are common in frozen meals, and if we eat it often, we can gain weight or have certain health issues.
We often think about heavy processing, artificial ingredients, and additives when we think about frozen meals. But if you read labels or freeze your food, which is what I do, you might be surprised to find out that frozen food is healthy and good for numerous reasons.
Why is frozen food healthy?
1. Frozen food is picked at its peak. When you buy fresh vegetables and fruits, they may not have been ripe when picked, but instead harvested days before and past its peak, which gives them less time to develop a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
2. The freezing process suspends enzyme activity, which means food can be stored for several months without losing quality and without being spoiled.
3. When food is frozen, we can say that it’s safe, because the freezing process suspends fungal and microbial activities.
4. When you freeze your food, you do know what ingredients you have used in the process.
5. The blanching process that occurs before freezing is associated with nutrient loss. During the process, about 25% of the vitamin C and about 10% of thiamin are lost. But these percentages are general and are different with different foods. Moreover, the loss cannot outweigh the amount of the vitamins retained in frozen food.
6. One study evaluated the nutrient content of eight commonly frozen fruits and vegetables: blueberries, strawberries, carrots, corn, broccoli, green beans, green peas and spinach. It revealed that the nutrient level of this frozen food is generally equal to their fresh counterparts, in some cases even better. The study found that freezing has a beneficial effect on the vitamin E content in frozen fruits and vegetables as compared to fresh. The nutrient value of calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron, and fiber are also well-conserved in frozen fruits and vegetables.
7. The University of Chester and Leatherhead Food Research has found that many frozen fruit and vegetables are in a better nutritional state than their fresh counterparts. Frozen fruit and vegetables scored better on antioxidant-type compounds
Which food tasted amazing when frozen?
What is your first thought when someone mentions grapes? Grapes are nutrient-dense fruit. Frozen crimson, black, dark blue, yellow, green, orange or pink grapes taste twice as better as the fresh ones and offer numerous health benefits.
Nutritionists recommend frozen grapes as a healthy snack because they offer a good amount of protein, calcium and vitamin C, E and A.
One cup of frozen red or green grapes has 1.2 grams of protein, 16 milligrams of calcium, 0.58 milligrams of iron, 0.3 milligrams of niacin and 0.1 milligrams of riboflavin. The major difference between frozen red and green grapes is the antioxidant found in red grapes, resveratrol.
Jamie Oliver shares this simple recipe for a delicious dessert that is great for after dinner!
Known as the fruit of the wise men, bananas are one of the healthiest fruit and the best option if you need to raise the intake of potassium, with over 400 mg of potassium in a single medium-size banana.
One banana provides 10 mg of vitamin C (15 percent of your daily recommended amount), 3 mg of manganese, 3 grams of fiber, and is naturally without fat and cholesterol.
The easiest way to add frozen banana into your diet is through smoothies. Freeze bananas without peel and you can use them as a healthy replacement for ice cream.
Try this delicious dessert – frozen chocolate covered bananas!
Research from South Dakota State University suggests that frozen blueberries offer a bigger dose of powerful antioxidants than fresh, known to prevent heart disease and cancer.
Frozen blueberries are certainly less likely to spoil. You can enjoy their powerful health benefits adding frozen berries to cereal, oatmeal, muffins, pies or pancakes. They are a healthy addition to your diet, especially unsweetened versions. However, the best is to freeze blueberries yourself.
A cup of unsweetened frozen blueberries, weighing 155 g, contains just 79 calories per cup and 1 g of fat. The cup provides more than 30 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin K, 6 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, 5 percent for vitamin B6 and 11 percent for the trace mineral manganese. A serving also provides 2 percent of the RDA for iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
Remember: blueberries are on the list of food that tends to show the highest pesticide residues.
Check out these amazing blueberry recipes on Pinterest.
One cup of pomegranate seeds contains 7 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, vitamin C (30% of the RDA), vitamin K (36% of the RDA) and potassium (12% of the RDA). Seeds are very sweet, with 2 grams of sugar in one cup. One of the substances that are responsible for pomegranate’s health benefits is punicalagin, powerful antioxidants found in the juice and the peel.
Remember: pomegranate juice can be frozen for over six months without the worry of getting bad.
You can add frozen pomegranate seed to oatmeal, nonfat Greek yogurt or sprinkle on salads for lunch or dinner.
Try this delicious frozen pomegranate and cashew cake and frozen greek yogurt bark with dark chocolate and pomegranate.
Raspberries are low in sugar (fructose) and a good source of vitamin C. Like all berries, raspberries are packed with antioxidants, thus great for the immune system. They are a rich source of flavonoid and phenolic compounds, and an excellent source of vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber (32% of RDA of 25 grams).
You can eat frozen raspberries in all kinds of ways—added to hot or cold cereal, stirred into yogurt, or scattered over salad. They are excellent for smoothies, and because they contain less water than fresh.
Raspberries are a great choice for baked goods – think pancakes and delicious muffins.
A cup of frozen mangoes can provide 60 mg of vitamin C, which is 80 percent of the recommended daily intake for women and 67 percent for men. Mango is also rich in vitamin A (approximately 60 percent of the recommended daily intake), B6, provides healthy natural sugars and boosts your intake of beneficial dietary fiber.
A cup of frozen mango contains 183 micrograms of copper or approximately one-fifth of the daily copper requirements and 277 milligrams of potassium.
You can freeze mango either entirely or in the form of chopped up pieces.
Adding peaches to our smoothie can bring back the memories of summer. A cup of frozen peaches has 60 calories and 13 grams of sugar, but provide 17 percent of RDA of vitamin C.
Peaches are great for skin protection and wrinkles. It’s interesting to remember that peaches contain 10 different vitamins. Besides vitamin C, a large peach can provide 570 international units of vitamin A, lower levels of vitamin K and E, and thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, niacin and pantothenic acid.
Peaches contain a certain amount of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, iron and calcium. So when you think about peaches, think about the heart and eye health.
Try this peach pie!
Pineapples are packed with vitamin C and provide a great source of the enzyme bromelain, which helps with digestion.
A cup of frozen pineapple contains 40 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, 10 percent for thiamin, 8 percent for vitamin B6, 6 percent for magnesium and 4 percent for folate, iron, riboflavin and niacin, 2 grams of fiber. Pineapple is fat-free and contains only 80 calories.
Often frozen pineapple is preferable to fresh because fresh pineapples may not be picked at their peak.
Try this frozen chocolate dipped pineapple pops!
Cherries are one of the few natural sources of melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep cycle and improve sleep. If you don’t like bananas, you can get your daily dose of potassium if you include cherries in your diet.
A cup of frozen cherries contains 27 percent RDA of vitamin A and 2 grams of fiber. Moreover, frozen cherries retain 100 percent of their nutritional value.
Research links cherries red color to heart health and to reducing inflammation, belly fat and total cholesterol.
How to freeze food at home?
The best-frozen food is food with high amounts of fat-soluble nutrients: vitamin A, carotenoids, and vitamin E. These nutrients are stable during food processing and blanching and freezing. You can freeze food high in vitamins B and C, however, as these vitamins are water-soluble, they are usually dissolved in water, so it’s best to eat them fresh.
All you need to know about freezing fruits and vegetables is available at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website. You will find detailed information about blanching, food containers, packaging and labeling, food that does not freeze well, and more.
The most important thing to learn is how to store frozen food properly because although you can freeze perishable food to preserve their nutritional value and flavor, the food does not stay fresh forever.
When you store it properly, the food can remain fresh for no more than six months.
How can you choose the right frozen produce?
The best is to follow the same rules you apply when shopping for fresh produce.
Read the label. Although most frozen produce is salt and sugar free, it’s still important to read the labels. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be packed with unnecessary added sugars and sodium, so check a package’s Nutrition Facts Panel and read the ingredient lists for unsuspecting ingredients.
“Fresh frozen” and “frozen fresh” are terms you should look for on the package. It is used for foods that are quickly frozen while fresh, where blanching is allowed. “Quickly frozen” usually means that the food is frozen via a system such as blast-freezing.
Look for organic. Another important thing when choosing frozen food is to look for organic food, which is pesticide-free. Most supermarkets carry a variety of frozen produce, but the best is to choose organic over conventional.
The truth is that frozen fruits are convenient; the food is pre-washed and often pre-chopped, and cheaper. Most of all, they are no different in nutritional value to their fresh counterparts.
You can also be very creative with frozen produce! Besides smoothies, you can enjoy them in desserts and cakes.
What’s your favorite dessert with frozen fruits?
Lohachoompol V, Srzednicki G, Craske J. – The Change of Total Anthocyanins in Blueberries and Their Antioxidant Effect After Drying and Freezing.
Nursal B, Yucecan S. – Vitamin C losses in some frozen vegetables due to various cooking methods.
Severi S, Bedogni G, Manzieri AM, et al. – Effects of cooking and storage methods on the micronutrient content of foods.
Image credit: DepositPhotos.com
Last article update: 11/14/2019