Frozen foods are the go-to foods for a lot of people, especially if they lead a very busy life. They last longer and can provide ready to eat meals, which saves time and effort.
However, given the choice between fresh and frozen foods, most people would probably say that fresh foods are healthier. Frozen foods often get a bad name, often for being processed. Often, they also get blamed for spreading infections like salmonella and listeriosis due to contamination. A recent study published in bioRxiv also indicates that it’s likely that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 infection can contaminate frozen meats, and might be responsible for transmission on the infection in parts of China, Vietnam and New Zealand.
Frozen vs Fresh
Yes, fresh foods are always the best for you. But only if you are taking the food from your back garden or directly from a farm. If you, like the average person, buy everything from a supermarket, you should know that the fruits and vegetables you bring home are actually a few days old, depending on how much time it took for them to be transported and how long they had been lying in the supermarket. To maintain their freshness, these fruits and veggies are plucked unripe and lose as much as 50% of their nutrients when they are stored and transported.
Frozen fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are kept in cold temperatures and frozen right after they are plucked. This helps keep their nutritional content safe. Interestingly, studies show that frozen fruits and veggies have more antioxidants and vitamins than fresh ones.
Additionally, frozen foods are easy on the pocket and they can help reduce food wastage, especially if you are someone who buys in bulk.
Nonetheless, not all frozen foods are good. Some foods are highly processed and contain preservatives and added sugars and salt. Try to look for the ingredients and packaging information on all frozen foods before you buy them.
It’s all about food preparation
According to Health Harvard, freshly picked fruits and veggies are certainly good for a healthy diet. However, if you can’t afford fresh, a mix of fresh and frozen foods can help you get all the needed nutrients in your diet. Besides, it is more about how you cook food that matters than the freshness of the food.
Avoid blanching or cooking in water since it leeches the water-soluble nutrients. Instead, try to steam, microwave or cook in any other way that does not involve a lot of water such as grilling or roasting.
Make sure to follow the instructions on the package while cooking frozen foods.
Frozen meats and seafood generally need to be thawed before they are cooked. Though you can go without thawing them, it will significantly increase your cooking time. Frozen vegetables, on the other hand, can be just cooked with about 1.5 cups of water without the need for thawing.
Thawing meats and seafood
1. In the refrigerator: The easiest way to thaw meat is putting it on a plate (so it doesn’t leak) in your refrigerator. However, this can only be done when your fridge is set at 1-4 degree Celsius as higher temperatures may lead to bacterial growth.
2. Cold water: Put the frozen food in a waterproof container or plastic pack and then put it in cold water for a few hours. Keep changing the water every half an hour so it doesn’t get hot.
3. Microwave: Remove the packaging of the food, put it in a microwave-safe dish and defrost it in a microwave. Most microwaves have a special setting for thawing foods.
For more, read our article on 5 foods you should never reheat in a microwave.
Health articles on News18 are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.