Social/physical distancing, quarantines, toilet paper shortages and race cancellations around the nation has led to heightened emotions of frustration and enhanced anxieties. The thought of meal-planning and grocery shopping can seem even more overwhelming and daunting than normal. You may be used to buying the freshest fruits and vegetables each week and may not have considered purchasing frozen or canned items. The grocery store may likely be out of your favorite items which can be frustrating and disruptive to your normal routine.
Here is a list of common myths debunked about frozen and canned food items.
Myth #1: Frozen Fruit/Vegetables Aren’t as Healthy as Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
A very common myth that is NOT true. Frozen fruit or vegetables are just as nutrient-dense as, and possibly more nutritious than, fresh produce. Frozen vegetables and fruit are picked at peak point of ripeness and flash-frozen to preserve the natural nutrients. Frozen produce can be a money-saver and an easy way to stock up on during a quarantine. Fresh produce only lasts a couple of days where frozen produce can last up to a year. Make sure to read the nutrition facts label of the products you purchase to ensure the ingredients contain what you think you are buying. For example, if you are buying a bag of frozen blueberries, the ingredient list should only contain blueberries. If possible, stay away from frozen fruit and vegetables that contain added sugars, additives and preservatives.
Myth #2: Canned Fruit, Vegetables and Beans Aren’t a Part of a Healthy Intake
Another common myth that is NOT true. Canned fruit, vegetables and beans can be a part of your daily nutrition plan, especially during these challenging times. Canned items are budget friendly and have some nutritious benefits and have a long shelf-life compared to fresh produce. When purchasing canned fruit, vegetables and beans, look at the nutrition facts label and view the ingredients list. For canned fruit, the fruit should be packed in water or 100% fruit juice rather than a sugar-containing syrup. When purchasing canned vegetables or beans, look for low-sodium options. You can also rinse the vegetables and beans to remove additional sodium.
Myth# 3: Canned Soups and Beans Contain too Much Fat and Sodium
Although there are higher fat containing soups such as cream-based soups/bisques, not all soups follow this pattern. Soups labeled “Cream of” or “Bisque”, or “Chowder” are usually made with cream or half and half which are higher in fat and calories and lower in fiber. When purchasing soups, look for more broth based and “Reduced Sodium” if possible. You can also make your own soups at home by starting with a base such as reduced sodium beef, chicken or vegetable broth. When purchasing canned beans, again look for “Reduced Sodium” on the can. If this is not an option in the stores, you can buy the regular canned beans and rinse them to remove additional sodium.
Myth #4: Canned Beans and Canned/Frozen Vegetables and Fruit are Full of Additives
In the frozen and canned sections of the grocery store, you will likely find food items with additives that increase the shelf-life of the food products. When purchasing canned beans, fruit or vegetables, refer to the nutrition facts label to view the ingredients. Remember, ingredients are listed in highest weight utilized. For example, if you buy frozen green beans and the first ingredient listed is butter and second ingredient is green beans, that means the product contains more butter than it does green beans. Identify frozen produce free of additives and preservatives.
Frozen and canned produce, beans and soups can certainly be part of your daily nutrition plan during these challenging times. These items are cost-efficient and are great items to be on the lookout for in the grocery stores. Take some time to plan your meals and snacks as this can help you feel more in control of your nutrition and can help balance your blood sugar. Try to combine sources of protein, fat and fiber for almost every meal and snack. These three food sources together will help keep you fuller and will promote a healthy intake of nutrients. Your meals may look slightly different than you are used to but can still support your daily nutrition goals and training regimen.
Lauren Mitchell is a Registered Sport Dietitian at eNRG Performance. She has a Master’s Degree in Nutritional Sciences with an emphasis in Sports Nutrition and Wellness. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.enrgperformance.com.