Frozen foods have been in existence since the 1930s and often are associated with TV dinners and other convenience items. These fruits and vegetables are quick and easy to use. They are considered less wholesome and less healthy than fresh because of the heavy processing, artificial ingredients and additives used for early frozen foods. Like all modern conveniences, they have advantages and disadvantages, depending entirely on what products you use.
Manufacturers have refined preparation, storage and reheating techniques to create healthy, flavorful, gourmet-quality meals and entrees. Frozen dinners give busy people a way to feed themselves and their families healthy meals in minutes. These foods have come a long way from processed mystery meats, mealy mashed potatoes and mushy vegetables. These meals also expose people to foods they might not otherwise eat, such as ethnic foods with long preparation times, or specialty foods that may be too expensive to obtain fresh.
When you buy fresh produce in the grocery store, it may have been harvested days before and may be past its peak by the time arrives. The produce may also not have been ripe when it was picked and may not be ready when it goes on sale. The produce is picked at its peak and flash process to maintain all the flavor and nutrients. The Frozen Food Foundation says that these fruits and vegetables are equally, and possibly more nutritious than fresh.
Vitamin C and the B vitamins suffer the biggest nutritional losses in frozen fruits and vegetables, according to a 2007 study in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. Levels of polyphenoic substances, which act as antioxidants to protect your cells from damage, also are lower in frozen food than fresh. Other nutrients, such as fiber, minerals, proteins and fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, E and carotenoids retain their value in either frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.
Frozen, prepared foods, like most other prepared foods, contain unacceptably high levels of sodium that can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily. If you are over age 40, you should limit sodium to no more than 1,500 mg daily. For instance, only one slice of frozen pizza contains 439 mg of sodium, a frozen spaghetti entree contains 600 mg and a 5 oz. portion of the turkey contains 787 mg.