Last week, I snagged Dad’s latest issue of Time Magazine when it came in the mail. I normally pass it on to him and then wait several months to skim through them - talk about old news But this latest issue’s front cover featured one of my favorite experts - Dr. Mehmet Oz, the vice chairman and professor surgery at Columbia University, a best-selling author, and the host of the Emmy Award-winning "The Dr. Oz Show" - and an interesting subject: "What to Eat Now: The Anti-Food-Snob Diet." So I kept it so I could report on it for you.
In his article, Dr. Oz points out that there’s little difference between the produce that you find at the farmer’s market and what you can find in the freezer case and the canned produce aisle of your own supermarket. "After several years of research and experience, I have come to an encouraging conclusion: the American food supply is abundant, nutritionally sound, affordable and, with a few simple considerations, comparable to the most elite organic diets," Dr. Oz writes. "Save the cash: the 99% diet can be good for you."
The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) agreed with Dr. Oz’s assessment. Noting that many people are limited by a busy schedule, tiny cooking spaces or a lack of kitchen equipment, the tip sheet points out that frozen meals can expand food options while also offering tasty and healthy meals.
"Another benefit of frozen meals is that freezing retains much of the food’s vitamin and mineral content, so eating frozen meals on a regular basis can be health y as long as you make good choices," the IFAS tip sheet states. "The use of effective freezing methods helps to maintain the original texture and good taste of food."
The University of Florida IFAS also offers that some brands of frozen meals may a help with weight management since portion sizes are controlled. Furthermore, these meals can be used to reach nutritional goals set by high-fiber or high-fat diets. The tip sheet suggests checking the nutritional content listing on the food label to identify total calories, fiber, fat, sodium and nutrients that are in the meal.
Dr. Oz notes that the blanching process that is used in freezing many vegetables can increase the fiber content of food, which is beneficial. He also points out that water-soluble vitamins, which include vitamin C and the various B vitamins, do better when steamed. Other vitamins and nutrients, such as carotenoids, thiamin and riboflavin, are not affected by freezing, which means you will get the full nutritional value of these vegetables.
Dr. Oz also points to canned food as another healthy option. He noted that fiber and nutrient content often stays high in these products. Furthermore, the heat treatment required to actually can cause carotenes, which are believed to reduce eye problems as well as cancer rates, to be more accessible for absorption. Dr. Oz stated that studies also have found that canned foods often are a more efficient way to get food based on cost, time and waste than fresh food. He pointed out that canned pinto beans were a dollar less per serving than dried pinto beans while canned spinach was 85% cheaper than fresh spinach.
Furthermore, Dr. Oz said that canned fish and meats still have the same protein content as what you would find at the meat counter. He also advocates for preserves and jams that do not have sugar added as being a great source of several important nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber.
However, if you’re going to opt for canned foods, you need to read labels. Livestrong.com warns that some canned products have additional salt and sugar. Other flavor enhancers such as MSG may be included in some canned products.
So what is the takeaway after reading Dr. Oz’s article (which I’d encourage you to read in its entirety since he makes some other really interesting points)? Feel free to shop in the aisles that feature canned fruits, vegetables and meats as well as frozen foods. As long as you’re willing to read some nutritional labels, you can find some healthy and tasty options.
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Glenny, S. A. & Dahl, W. J. (2012). Shopping for health: guide to frozen meats. University of Florida Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Martinez, E. (2010). Health benefits regarding canned fruits and vegetables. Livestrong.com.
Oz, M. (2012). Give (frozen) peas a chance - and carrots too. Time Magazine.
Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter at @dorianmartin, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.