Frozen Foods: The Nutritious Choice

Courtesy of U.S. Cold Storage

Freezing is the best known means of food preservation. Commercial quick freezing processes preserve the nutritional value, freshness, flavor and color of foods.

All available experimental data shows that frozen products often contain more nutrients than fresh foods. That’s because produce destined for commercial freezing is harvested at the height of ripeness and nutritive value. It is taken directly to nearby freezing plants for immediate processing which preserves the nutrient content. Fresh fruits and vegetables from the market are often gathered in an immature state and allowed to ripen “off the vine.” Because they frequently are transported long distances and stored before they even go on sale in the supermarket, they have lost vitamins by the time they are purchased. Nutrient depletion even continues while produce is stored in the refrigerator. Unless vegetables and fruits are truly “garden fresh,” frozens are a better buy nutritionally.

Freezing preserves nutrients

Scientists at the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation analyzed 51 different frozen foods regularly found in grocery stores and supermarkets. Their research proved that foods retain their nutritional value during freezing. Substantial and highly beneficial amounts of no less than 21 essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients were found in these products.

Freezing, per se, does not injure vitamins. Air exposure is much more destructive, particularly to volatile nutrients such as vitamin C and thiamine. For example, a four-ounce serving of frozen Florida orange juice contains nearly the whole amount of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C as well as folic acid, thiamine, potassium and other essential nutrients.

Frozen dinners

According to studies, the standard 11-ounce frozen chicken dinner supplies from 42.58 percent to 54.22 percent of the minimum average daily requirement of protein for an adult. The average frozen chicken dinner provides more than 100 percent of the RDA of vitamin A and contains substantial amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin C, niacin, iron and calcium. It contains only 1/35th as much cholesterol as a single egg.

The average 11-ounce frozen beef dinner provides the following amounts of U.S. RDA of nutrients for an adult: nearly 50 percent of protein, 25 percent of phosphorus, 60 percent of iron, 14 percent of vitamin A, 25 percent of thiamine, 30 percent of riboflavin and 95 percent of niacin.

Storage

Frozen foods must be stored at 0°F. or lower to retain vitamins and other nutrients. Kept at 0°F. storage for six months, peas will retain approximately 90 percent of their original vitamin C.

Proper cooking

Proper cooking of frozen vegetables is essential to preserving their nutritional value, as well as their bright color and crisp texture. Careless cooking, especially in large amounts of water, cause loss of many water-soluble nutrients such as vitamins. Also, the shorter the cooking time, the greater the nutrient retention. Whether steamed, stir-fried or boiled, frozen vegetables should be cooked just tender-crisp. If they are boiled, use only a small amount of water. Follow package directions closely and test vegetables to see if they are done for best results.

A balanced diet

Because no single food contains all the necessary nutrients in sufficient amounts, variety in your menu is essential to a healthy well balanced diet. A wide range of seasonless fruits, juices, vegetables, breads and potato products, seafood, meats, snacks and desserts are available from the freezer case to help the homemaker plan nutritionally balanced meals everyday.

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