You've decided to eat more fruits and vegetables. You head dutifully to the produce section at the grocery store. "Fresh is best," you say to yourself. But wait!
Especially in the winter, fresh fruits and vegetables are more limited and are often more expensive. Yes, you might save money - and even gain some nutrients - by heading down the freezer aisle or steering to the canned good shelves instead.
Consider this: fresh produce is often in transit for several days and sits on a supermarket shelf for another week. Once in your fridge, Order priligy online several more days may pass before you touch it. Technically, these foods are fresh. Yet by the time you eat them, they might be well past their nutritional peak.
That's where frozen and canned foods come in. They are available all year round and can be prepared within minutes. Other benefits:
- Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing and canning are usually processed at peak ripeness, when they are the most nutritious.
- Although the heating process for canning destroys some vitamins, most nutrients are retained.
- Canned and frozen products can be more nutritious than fresh, especially in the "off" season. Canned tomatoes, corn and carrots contain more of some antioxidants than their fresh counterparts because of the canning process.
- The heating process used in canning causes only a minor loss of nutrients, similar to what you lose by heating a food at home.
The bottom line?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, less than one third of Americans eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. So the message is: get them in any way you can! For best results, follow the guidelines below.
When vegetables are in season, buy them fresh and ripe. Fresh produce is nutritionally better when it is used within a few days of picking. This ensures maximum taste and nutrition.
- Look for frozen items marked with the USDA "U.S. Fancy" shield. That means the produce is of the best size, shape and color, and usually has a higher nutrient content than U.S. No. 1 or 2.
- Eat frozen foods soon after purchase. They will degrade and lose nutrient value after a few months. Foods that linger in a freezer might also get "burned" or pick up odors from surrounding products.
- Steam or microwave your fruits and vegetables. Boiling will increase vitamin and mineral loss.
- Buy canned products that don't leak or bulge. Do not eat food from a can that spurts or hisses loudly when opened. These are possible signs of spoilage.
- Buy products before their "sell by" or expiration dates. Canned foods that sit on the shelf too long might lose flavor, color or texture.
- Store canned food at moderate temperatures - 75 degrees F or below.
- Refrigerate the unused portions of canned foods in storage containers - not in the can.
- Read labels for sodium content. If you're limiting the amount of salt in your diet, look for low-sodium or sodium-free products.
- Avoid added sugar or corn syrup, which is often used to enhance flavor.
- Choose fruits packed in their own juices.
The terms fresh, frozen and canned do not define three separate levels of nutrition. Eaten wisely, all three can play a role in increasing your overall intake of fruits and vegetables, the ultimate goal.