Throughout human history, there have been many ways to preserve food, including pickling, canning and salting. Such efforts became easier with the invention of the refrigerator and freezer, which opened up a whole new way to shop for and stockpile foods.
It’s difficult to imagine life without refrigerators or freezers. For example, frozen foods, which are a mainstay of the modern diet, are only possible thanks to modern refrigeration.
The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that frozen foods are an affordable way for people to get their daily recommended doses of fruits and vegetables. But the benefits do not stop with fruits and vegetables. Many other nutritious foods can be frozen and incorporated into recipes.
Despite their popularity, frozen foods are sometimes mistaken as being less worthy of consumption than fresh alternatives. Food producers Green Isle Foods indicates that very often frozen foods make nutritious additions to a meal. Here are a few reasons why.
• Frozen produce is often more nutritionally reliable than fresh items, as freezing prevents sensitive nutrients and vitamins from being lost during transportation. In a 2013 study sponsored by the University of Georgia, researchers compared various private-label frozen produce items to fresh equivalents. Nutrient levels were analyzed in samples of the frozen produce and in the fresh equivalents upon being purchased and then again after the fresh produce spent five days in a refrigerator. Day-of-purchase fresh and frozen varieties were nutritionally similar. But after five days, the fresh produce lost vitamin content, especially vitamins A and C and folate.
• Frozen foods typically contain no preservatives, as freezing itself is a form of preservation.
• Frozen foods enable people to choose from a variety of items even when they would normally be out of season.
• Frozen foods may help reduce food waste, as individually packaged items help people use only what they need.
• Frozen seafood is often less expensive than fresh fish because the extended shelf life offers year-round price stability and product availability.
It is important to be picky when buying frozen foods. According to nutrition experts at Tufts University, convenience meals are not always created equal. It is essential to read labels to ensure that healthy ingredients are included and to pay attention to portion sizes to keep fat and calories in check.
Individuals can customize many frozen foods to their needs and can rest assured that the meals they are creating are nutritionally diverse and wholesome.