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Vegetable vitals
Which is best: Fresh, frozen or canned?

» Choose fresh veggies carefully

» Fill up in the frozen foods aisle

» Reach into your pantry

Preparation makes a difference

To get the most nutrients from your veggies, follow these tips:

  • Leave on edible peels. The skins of many vegetables contain fiber and other nutrients.
  • Clean thick-skinned vegetables with a soft brush and water. Don’t soak them; some vitamins can dissolve in the water.
  • Use quick-cooking techniques such as stir-frying or steaming. The shorter the cooking time, the more nutrients you retain.
  • Use as little water as possible. Nutrients are lost in the cooking water.
  • Rinse canned vegetables in a strainer under cold water. Doing so can reduce sodium by up to 40 percent.

Although as a kid you might have pushed your vegetables aside, you now know they’re an important part of a healthy diet. But are some varieties better than others? Find out how fresh, frozen and canned vegetables compare.

Choose fresh veggies carefully

Fresh vegetables are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals, but they may lose some nutrients during long-distance travel. For the best nutritional value, shop farmers’ markets for in-season produce fresh from the field. Generally, the darker or deeper the color is, the higher the nutrient content. Look for vegetables that are bright, crisp and free from any bruising or decay.

Fill up in the frozen foods aisle

Frozen vegetables are a good alternative to keep stocked in your freezer. Frozen versions sometimes offer more nutrients than do out-of-season fresh vegetables because they’re processed and flash-frozen at their peak. Be sure to choose plain, frozen varieties without added butter or sauces.

Reach into your pantry

Vegetables are canned immediately after harvest so they retain much of their nutritional content. However, except for canned beans such as kidney beans, most canned vegetables have less fiber than fresh or frozen foods. Many also have added salt, so look for no-sodium or low-sodium varieties.

The bottom line: Although many vegetable lovers prefer the taste and crunch of fresh produce, both canned and frozen veggies are nutritionally sound, too.

© 2014 Dowden Health Media