Weekly Wellness: Frozen Food Tips
COLUMBIA - There are many of us who are trying to eat healthy but live alone (or with a partner) and creating an entire meal can seem wasteful. Choosing frozen foods might be a good alternative - as long as you make the healthiest choices possible.
The issue with some frozen food options can be the amount of sodium (that can be used as a preservative). Also, when choosing frozen veggies, there are options that include added seasonings and sauces - also adding sodium and calories to what would have been a relatively healthy option.
This week we are going to give you some tips on how to choose the healthiest frozen foods available. This will require that you read the labels (so take your readers to the store).
Fruits and Vegetables: Plain frozen fruits and vegetables are often harvested at their peak ripeness and flash frozen, which helps to maintain their nutrients. To avoid excess salts and calories:
- Choose plain vegetables (without cheeses or sauces)
- Avoid seasoned vegetables
- Skip vegetables that have added rice or pasta
- Choose plain fruits (without added sugar or syrup)
Fish and Seafood: Much like frozen fruits and vegetables, fish and seafood are frozen soon after being caught, preserving their nutrients. If you like seafood, follow these tips:
- Avoid fried or breaded fish and seafood
- Check the labels of seasoned varieties for excess sodium.
- Choose fish and seafood with lower mercury levels, such as salmon, tilapia, trout, sole, catfish, shrimp, and oysters
- Choose sustainable fish and seafood that has not been overfished and that has not been farmed in a way harmful for you or the environment.
Microwave Meals: While there are many healthy options available, it’s important that you check nutrition labels closely to avoid getting excess calories, fat and sodium. These are a few things nutrition professionals recommend when it comes to selecting healthy frozen meals:
- Choose a meal with 350 to 500 calories so that it feels like you have eaten a substantial meal
- Select meals with fewer than 600 milligrams of sodium
- Look for meals with no more than 3.5 grams of total fat per 100 calories, fewer than 2 grams of saturated fat per meal, and no trans fat
- Choose meals with at least 4 grams of fiber
- Look for meals with at least 15 grams of protein
- Choose meals that are balanced with a variety of ingredients that provide fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein
There are some wonderful frozen food items out there. If you tend to only choose one brand, maybe branch out and experience other brands. You might find something you absolutely love.