23 October 2012 What Form is Your Fruit & Veggies?

Did you know that there are over 200 varieties of fruits and vegetables? This means a ton of options for flavor and texture! And the best part is that we have the ability to purchase them in many forms — fresh, frozen, canned and dried. Each type has its share of benefits in terms of access, nutrition and cost. Here's what you need to know about fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruit and vegetable options and how each type fits into a healthy diet full of variety.

Fresh

    Pros
  • Seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables taste best and are often the most affordable due to increased availability
  • Because it's fresh you don't have to worry about added ingredients
  • Overripe fruit can be used in smoothies or for baking
  • You can plant your own garden and grow your own fresh vegetables
    Cons
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables often don't last long, so buy small amounts frequently
  • Heat and light can destroy some nutrients, so once a fruit or vegetable is picked the nutrients begin to decrease
  • You have to know what to look for in terms of ripeness

Frozen

    Pros
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and processed at peak ripeness so they have a consistent taste
  • Can safely be stored for up to 3 months
  • Frozen produce items often come pre-chopped for quick and easy cooking
    Cons
  • May have a different taste or texture than the fresh form
  • Look out for added sauces, sodium and sugars

Canned

    Pros
  • Canned food items have a longer shelf life
  • Convenient, portable and quick
  • Some canned vegetables are higher in important nutrients than the fresh alternative. Tomatoes are one example. Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene that may play a role in the prevention of cancer. Canned tomatoes allow our bodies to better absorb lycopene. This is because lycopene is more easily absorbed after it is processed.
    Cons
  • Should be used soon after opening
  • What to watch for:
  • Container condition is important; make sure that there are no leaks or bulges Check the label! Many canned goods have added sodium or sugar - if this is the case, rinse the product in a colander before cooking to remove some of the added ingredients

Dried

    Pros
  • Contain lots of fiber, vitamins A and C and folate
  • Dried fruits are a great portable snack
  • Can be added to cereals or salads
    Cons
  • Dried fruits have more calories per serving due to natural and added sugars
  • The serving size is considerably smaller than the fresh form
  • Some dried options are preserved with sulfite which may cause allergic reactions in some people

Be a savvy shopper!

  • Purchase your fresh fruits and vegetables in season and don't be afraid to ask a grocery store employee to help make your selections
  • Make your own frozen vegetables by freezing items that are in season for later use
  • Read the labels! Look for labels on frozen, canned and dried products that say "packed in own juices", "packed in water", "unsweetened", "no added sugars", "no salt added", or "reduced sodium"
  • To save money
    • Purchase fruits and vegetables in season
    • Stock up when canned and frozen options are on sale
    • Purchase fresh produce in season
    • Buy fruit and vegetables in their simplest form. Pre-cut, pre-washed, pre-portioned, and processed foods are convenient but are often more costly.

Additional Online Resources

This blog post was written by dietetic intern, Sarah Hudnall. If you like Sarah's writing, you can read her blog at Navigating Nutrition.

Ryan Newhouse

Ryan Newhouse is the Marketing Director for MyNetDiary and writes for a variety of publications. He wants you to check out MyNetDiary on Instagram!

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Foods & Recipes/Fruit & Vegetables Meal Planning & Diets/"Plan, Shop, Prep, and Cook"

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