Frozen Vegetables: the Good, the Bad, and the Unhealthy

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

2895-frozen-vegetable-health.jpgI recently came across Birdseye’s new “lightly seasoned” frozen vegetables that you can microwave in the bag.

The creamed spinach advertised that it is all natural, so I took a quick glance at the package and snatched it off the shelf.

How bad can that be, I decided. Upon further inspection of these frozen seasoned vegetables, here is what I found……

Not So Natural

If a food package say it is “all natural”, then it is. There is no trickery there. But, always check the other varieties and flavors, as they may have the same packaging, but not the “all natural” wording.

For example, the frozen broccoli by Birdseye contains a long list of artificial ingredients. But, the packaging is nearly identical to the healthier creamed spinach. You wouldn’t discover this unless you thoroughly read labels.

Creamed Spinach Ingredients: spinach, sauce (water, half and half (milk, cream), butter (cream, salt), parmesan cheese (pasteurized part skim milk, culture, salt, enzymes), corn starch, garlic powder, salt.

Nutrition

This frozen bag of vegetables is still not “health food” because it contains 90 calories in only ½ cup, and 340 mg of sodium per serving. That is quite a bit for a single small serving. However, it is definitely a better choice than the generic frozen creamed spinach on the shelves which usually contains a hefty dose of trans fat.

Would you like trans fat with that pure and healthy spinach? That would be the worst option.2894-frozen-vegetables.jpg

The Frozen Vegetable Isle

Do not fear the frozen veggie isle. It is normally a great source for high quality vegetables. You just have to be careful, and read your labels if you buy “sauced” frozen veggies.

I also recommend that you do not steam your vegetables in the bag they come in. The bag may leach chemicals, even though legally, they are deemed safe for consumption. I don’t trust them!

Your Best Option

Try to buy plain frozen vegetables and add your own spices and seasonings. Then, you know there are no artificial ingredients, and you know exactly what you are putting in your food.

7 Comments

  1. Jennifer Earl

    my birdseye pasta with broccoli my husband refroze it would i be able to eat it or not?

    Reply
  2. Jonathan Aluzas

    I’m trying to figure out the upside to frozen over fresh. Is it less expensive? If so, I can understand why people would opt for it. Is it a matter of storage and freshness? We only have so much space in our refrigerator and are afraid things will go bad before we have a chance to eat them. If that’s the deal, I get it, kind of. Maybe you live in a part of the world where only a limited number of produce items can be grown, so if you want variety you have to ship it in? Makes sense. But, if all things are equal, why would you ever get frozen over fresh? I’m spoiled, I live in L.A. where we can grow much of what we need/like in our own backyards, and I do (http://www.arenafitness.com/backyard-salad-bar), so maybe my perspective is skewed. But if there’s ever a choice, and cost isn’t a factor, go with fresh.

    Reply
  3. Tammy

    It’s really important to read the labels before buying vegetables. But whenever there’s an opportunity to go fresh, always grab that option. I really enjoyed the read. Thanks.

    Reply
  4. Superfood Sisters

    Frozen vegetables are a great way to make a fast and healthy dinner! We ALWAYS check the ingredients, you never know what you are going to get if you don’t!

    Reply
  5. emedoutlet

    I never buy frozen vegetables. I never use canned food. Recently, I thought to give it a try. But now after reading your post, I am not going to buy them. I am going to stick to my natural veg from nearby produce.

    Thank you for useful post.

    Reply
  6. Spectra

    I only buy frozen veggies that contain ONLY vegetables–no “cheese” sauce, no noodles or mixins, nothing but cut-up steamed veggies. I think it’s pretty devious of companies to advertise their product as being “all natural” and “lightly sauced” to try and make people think they’re healthy.

    Reply
  7. Lala

    The lesson to be learned is, ALWAYS check your labels. Can’t stress that enough. I don’t trust packaged things blindly – I always check nutrition values and etc – makes my grocery shopping time consuming but for health, it’s well worth it.

    Reply