I often talk about protein being the main building block of your meals. Well, I’d like to take this time to talk about the “other” main building block…vegetables and, on a lesser note, fruit. Vegetables and fruits are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They help strengthen your immune system, fight disease, and can actually help your body recover quicker after intense workouts.
These are all important “health” benefits. But what about the taste buds? I’m happy to say, fruits and vegetables can play a key role in changing your boring meal into a flavorful masterpiece.
The food guide recommends 8-10 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Realistically, how many of you actually hit this mark?
Here are a variety of ways to get your daily serving of veggies and fruit:
- Fresh (organic or conventional)
- Frozen (organic or conventional)
So which variety of produce should you buy?
That depends on what is most important to you. Is it taste, cost, convenience, or overall health benefits?
Lets discuss in more detail…
Fresh organic produce wins this category hands down. Certain high quality frozen brands will still taste good, but you can’t beat the taste of fresh organic produce. Also adding frozen produce to certain recipes can change the consistency of the meal. This is due to the melted water caused by heating up the frozen produce.
Tastiest: Fresh Organic
Least Tasty: Canned
Canned produce is usually the most economical but issues with added preservatives and taste is the downfall. Fresh organic produce is usually the most expensive variety.
Most Economical: Canned
Least Economical: Fresh Organic
Canned and frozen produce are more convenient due to their increased shelf life. You can always stock up on canned and frozen veggies during a sale. Fresh produce has a limited shelf life which requires more trips to the grocery store. But you can freeze certain fresh produce and then defrost when you’re ready to use it.
Most Convenient: Canned & Frozen
Least Convenient: Fresh
Surprisingly, frozen veggies and fruit can sometimes be more nutritious than fresh. The reason? The ripeness is what controls the overall quality of the nutrients of the fruit or vegetable. Frozen produce can be picked during peak ripeness and then immediately frozen to preserve all the nutrients. This can create an overall more nutritious piece of produce versus a “fresh” piece that is over or under ripe. Be careful to buy frozen produce that does not have added preservatives. Many canned produce items have added preservatives like salt to extend the shelf life. Being stored in a can also has potential BPA issues (leaking into the food). Always read the nutrition label.
Overall the most nutritious form is organic locally produced fresh produce that is nicely ripened. By purchasing local produce, you can be assured it’s at its optimal nutrition level.
Most Nutritious: Fresh, locally produced, organic ripe produce
Least Nutritious: Canned
There you have it. Here are three ways (with varying nutritional benefits) to get more produce into your diet.
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