There are many things to consider when choosing which form of vegetable is best for you, fresh, frozen, or canned. The main things to consider would be price, shelf life, nutrition, and most importantly taste preference.
When considering prices, often your canned or frozen options can be better options for your wallet. Unless the vegetable is in season and grown locally, there are better chances of getting a better price when you choose one of the other two options.
We all have had fresh vegetables that we bought and swore we would use, rotting away in our fridge before we got the chance to cook anything with it. For this reason, canned or frozen is a great option. It allows you to buy your vegetables and not have to worry if life gets busy, ruining your plans to cook that vegetable stir fry. This also lets you throw meals together easily at the end of the week when your groceries are running dangerously low. You can easily stock up on extra vegetables to keep in your pantry or freezer for whenever you need.
When it comes to nutrition, canned and frozen vegetables usually get a bad reputation. Somehow it became stigmatized, making people feel like fresh vegetables are the best choice. Frozen vegetables are often picked and flash frozen at their peak. This means that all the nutrients are locked in, making them possibly more nutritious than their fresh alternatives.
This is similar to canned vegetables as well, although with canned it is important to note sodium. They are often soaked in a sodium solution, so it is important to pick low sodium and rinse thoroughly before using. Fresh vegetables will lose nutrients over time through oxygen, sunlight, and aging. But this doesn’t mean that they are ‘bad,’ they are still packed with amazing vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Fresh vegetables’ nutrient content will also depend on the season and where they are grown. Local produce will be a great option to get nutritious vegetables and support your local farmer.
While it is important to note all of the previous points, the most important selling point is taste. If you prefer fresh over frozen, or canned over fresh, or whatever your preference is, that makes it the best option for you. Vegetables are no use to us if they aren’t consumed. Overall, it is important to keep in mind that preference is key for our nutrition. If you prefer fresh broccoli over frozen, get the fresh. The best option for vegetables is whatever vegetable you will eat and enjoy.
Brianna De la Cruz, MS, RDN