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Fresh or Frozen? 3 Best Bets for Making the Most of Your Veggies

 

Veggies

So you’ve made it a goal to get healthier and eat more veggies. But once you’re at the store, how do you know whether to buy them fresh or frozen or, if you’re not going to eat them raw, what is the best way to cook them? Greatist has some great ideas on that, with three main suggestions.

1. While frozen produce is convenient and ready to cook, your best bet for getting your full amounts of vitamins C and B from foods like cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower is to eat them raw.

While it’s true that many frozen fruits and veggies have plenty of nutrients, if you cook them, make sure to take them directly from your freezer to the pan on the stove, as studies show thawing them first speeds up vitamin C loss, especially with frozen peas, spinach, okra and green beans.

2. When you do choose to cook them, boiling or steaming certain veggies, like broccoli and carrots, can boost free radical-trapping antioxidants and phytochemicals. Just don’t overcook them or you lose the benefit. Ideally, you want to eat as many foods as possible raw, but if you do want to cook them, consult my article, “Superfoods That Give You the Most Bang for Your Buck,” which offers tips on steaming versus boiling.

One caveat: Never, ever microwave anything, as that destroys nutrients.

Another way to preserve the nutrient content of your fruits and vegetables is to learn how to store them properly. For example, it’s better to tear your lettuce leaves before refrigerating them as that releases protective phytonutrients. As long as you eat the lettuce within a couple days, this will work well for you.

3. Go easy on the temperature that you cook your veggies and use as little water as possible. The main reason you want to hold back on the added water is because you don’t want to cook away the nutrients. But before you even put them in the pan, remember that there are ways to cut your fresh veggies to get the most nutrition.

For example, broccoli should be cut to maximize the edible portions, and then can be cooked four different ways, including steamed, sautéed, roasted or baked and blanched, and each has its own different preparation method.

But what if you don’t have fresh foods on hand, or you don’t have room in the fridge to store them? Then, opting for frozen can be the next-best option. Another hint: Don’t discard the juices from cooked veggies. Instead, save the juices for an ultra-rich and tasty soup broth base for later.

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