frozen, canned, or raw vegetables: does it matter?

Red. Yellow. Orange. Green.

No, I’m not talking about colors in a rainbow….This post is all about one of the food groups that puts pretty colors on your plate…vegetables!

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I know…I can HEAR the excitement and thrill through the screen.

If we are honest with ourselves, many of us would say that we simply don’t get enough vegetables. 

….My personal goal is to try to make vegetables fill half of my plate each meal…(It’s sometimes harder than expected…just takes planning!) 

If you, like me, are constantly shopping for veggies, then you maybe have asked these questions:

“Are frozen and canned vegetables just as healthy as fresh?”

“Do I have to buy organic?”

“How should I cook them?”

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For expert help with the vegetable confusion, I reached out to Ethos Health, based in New Jersey. Doctor Ron Weiss is board certified in internal medicine and acts as Co-Executive Director of Ethos Health. He is ALSO a botanist and farmer. 

I figured that if anyone understands vegetables, it’s him and his team! 

When choosing vegetables from the store, the Ethos Health team suggests to try to buy organic, fresh as a first choice. 

Fresh veggies are full of nutrients we need. If you can buy locally farmed produce, it is even better due to the loss of nutrients that can occur if vegetables have to be shipped far away. Unfortunately, once produce is picked from the plant/tree/lifesource, it can begin to lose nutrients over time. Local farmer’s markets are my absolute favorite way to buy fresh produce. If you have one, and you’re not sure how to find out if they have organic produce, just ask the attendant or farmer.

If a farmer’s market is not an option for you, most stores label the organic produce with a sticker or produce sign. Many companies have caught on to the organic trend and have marketed “organic” right on the packages.

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To go deeper in knowledge of buying organic, it is important to understand that there are standards that are, in theory, supposed to be met. Inspectors go to farms to…well…inspect. However, some testing (soil, etc) is not done 100% of the time by some of the inspectors. There is an honor system that does come in to play with some of this labeling, as it is hoped that one can trust the word of the farmers. With that in mind, if you are confused about whether the vegetable you have purchased is organic or conventional (and you could not find the answer otherwise), you can always use the PLU sticker on the vegetable to try to find out…provided there is one. Simply enter the number on the International Federation of Produce Standards website. 

Of course, most of us recognize that buying fresh, organic is not always possible, and Ethos Health graciously provided more suggestions!

They recommended organic, frozen vegetables as a second choice. Studies are indicating that various freezing techniques can “lock in” nutrients of produce. You can usually find the organic, frozen area in the regular freezer section of most stores. Typically, they are right by the conventional frozen veggies. 

 As for the confusion over canned vegetables….  They do lose nutrient value, however, if other options are unattainable, they will certainly do the job when you’re not able to get fresh or frozen vegetables. Many companies are canning organic vegetables, and of course there are a huge amount of conventional, canned vegetables. Because there tends to be a large amount of salt in canned vegetables (from certain canning processes), you can rinse the vegetables under water to help get rid of some of the excess.

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Now that you have a better understanding of the differences in the consumerism of vegetables, let’s have a quick discussion on vegetable preparation. In addition to the buying process of vegetables, Ethos provided their recommendations for optimal nutrient-protecting prep and cooking methods. Consuming raw vegetables was, of course, the first choice. Steaming vegetables was the second choice. Using vegetables in a stew or soup was third. Finally….baked, without oil, was the fourth recommendation for cooking methods.

Hopefully this information better helped you to plan your shopping and cooking based on YOUR PERSONAL NEEDS AND DESIRES. We each have different goals and needs. I understand that many people want the most nutrient-dense diet 100% of the time, while others are not willing to compromise flavor every single day. In the end, I believe that sharing the information will help you better prepare for the long run and what you need to be healthy! Do what works for you!

With Love,

Meaghan xoxo

References:

Ethos Health: http://www.myethoshealth.com

https://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables

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