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Why Frozen Foods Are Not as Bad as You Think

By Chris Brown

Rushing around after a busy day, you may prioritize quickness over quality with your food. With an ounce of shame, you may even sheepishly pop a frozen meal into the microwave or cook a quick bowl of frozen peas. However, those frozen foods may not be as unhealthy as you have been led to believe. In some cases, a frozen meal can be preferable to a higher-calorie, though fresher alternative. In fact, after some research, you may find that frozen meals offer a guilt-free way to maintain your diet in an efficient way.

Negatives of Frozen Foods

The biggest concern when it comes to frozen foods is that they are traditionally loaded with sodium. The CDC notes that U.S. consumers intake approximately 70 percent of their sodium from processed foods, such as some frozen options. However, frozen foods have adapted alongside the health food market to include many reduced sodium options. A simple check of the nutritional label can help you skirt the salt in the frozen aisle.

Similarly, many frozen foods contain the same unhealthy ingredients that should be avoided in all foods such as artery-clogging hydrogenated oils (especially with pizzas) and inflammation-inducing monosodium glutamate. The defense against these ingredients is the same as with salt: review the ingredients list.

All in all, frozen foods don't appear to be much worse than fresh foods in many cases. But why then do they get such a bad rap?

The False Bad Rap of Frozen Foods

As with any food, the nutritional level of frozen foods depends entirely upon which product you choose. However, frozen foods often get a worse rap than their ingredients lists warrant. This is in part due to the history of frozen foods as a fatty and salty quick meal option. But with companies creating healthier frozen meals over the years, you can often find frozen foods that are just as healthy, and in some cases healthier, than fresher options. There are, in fact, quit a few health benefits to frozen foods:

Less preservatives and chemicals - A main consumer worry is that frozen foods are packed with preservatives and chemicals. However, the opposite tends to be true. This is because freezing naturally preserves food, so the chemicals typically added for preservation in "fresh" foods are not required.

More nutritious than fresh foods after a short time - A 2013 study by the University of Georgia found that on the day of purchase, fresh and frozen foods were nutritionally similar. As the foods aged, however, the fresh foods contained less vitamins after five days than their frozen counterparts. This is because foods lose nutritional value as they sit in ambient temperatures. Fresh foods may take days to finally reach your dinner table, whereas frozen foods are typically flash frozen the moment of harvest and defrosted immediately before consumption.  

Low in calories and easy to track - One convenient part of eating an all-in-one frozen dinner is that its nutritional information is clearly labeled for the entire meal. This makes it easy to track macros, intake amounts, and calories. Also, because it is pre-portioned, a frozen meal tends to have fewer overall calories than if you were to assemble the same meal yourself.

Frozen foods can be the not-so-unhealthy addition to your diet that prevents you from rushing into a less-healthy, last-minute indulgence, like fast food.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in San Antonio, Tex.

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