Produce: Beyond Fresh
Today’s contribution is from Good Measure Meals’Olivia Burbi, MS, RDN, LD
While the world of nutrition research may sometimes seem uncertain, one recommendation remains the same: eat your fruits and vegetables! Fruits and veggies are nutritional powerhouses, but are still widely under-consumed by most Americans. They are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, which keeps cholesterol in check and helps decrease the risk of cancer and other chronic conditions.
Many deem fresh fruits and vegetables more “nutritious” than their frozen or canned counterparts. However, canned and frozen potentially have higher nutrient levels than fresh. They are picked at their peak of ripeness and processed immediately, resulting in high nutrient retention. Fresh produce, on the other hand, may have taken days or weeks to travel to the grocery store, which can deplete nutrient content over time. In addition, frozen and canned are convenient to eat year round!
When choosing canned veggies, opt for the “no salt added” or “low sodium” versions, and rinse thoroughly before serving to reduce sodium by up to 40 percent. Look for fruits that are canned in 100 percent juice or water instead of heavy syrups to avoid added sugar.
Dried fruit is another great way to increase your fruit intake, but be mindful of your portions. Since the water is removed, it can be easy to overeat! Choose varieties with no added sugar and stick to a ¼ cup.
At the end of the day, incorporating more fruits and veggies into your diet is what matters – whether they are fresh, canned, frozen or dried. Here are some ways to get started:
- Add frozen veggies to a stir-fry
- Eat fresh veggies with hummus or a Greek yogurt-based dip
- Add canned veggies to a soup or chili
- Use frozen fruit in smoothies
- Use dried fruit to make a trail mix with popcorn and mixed nuts
- Use frozen fruit to make compote to top yogurt or oatmeal
- Add frozen fruit to water for more flavor