The convenience of frozen food is something which we can’t deny. Frozen food offers a quick solution for our busy schedules.“While frozen items can remain safe after expiry date, their quality may have deteriorated. Furthermore, look for any ripped packing. If the packaging is torn, punctured, or damaged in any way, it can lead to freezer burn or contamination,” said Dr Edwina Raj, Head of Services, Clinic Nutrition and Dietetics, Aster CMI Hospital.
Freezer burn occurs when meals are exposed to air in the freezer, resulting in dehydration and the development of dry, discoloured, and often rough or unpleasant-textured regions. As per, Dr Raj, freezer burn is one of the most common difficulties with frozen meals. However, questions often arise about the nutritional value of frozen food, especially when reheated.
Factors Influencing Nutritional Value
Initial Nutrient Content
The nutritional quality of frozen food largely depends on its initial nutrient content before freezing. Fresh and nutrient-rich ingredients contribute to a healthier frozen meal.
The freezing process itself may cause minimal nutrient loss, but overall, frozen foods can retain a significant portion of their original nutritional value.
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The method used for reheating plays a role. Microwaving, steaming, or oven reheating can affect nutrient retention differently.
Tips for Making Frozen Food Healthier
Choose Nutrient-Rich Options
You can choose for frozen meals that contain a variety of nutrient-dense ingredients, such as vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
Steam or Microwave
Use steaming or microwaving as reheating methods when possible. These methods are generally gentler on nutrients compared to frying.
Avoid overcooking frozen meals, as prolonged exposure to heat can lead to additional nutrient loss.
Add Fresh Ingredients
Enhance the nutritional profile by adding fresh ingredients like leafy greens, tomatoes, or herbs to your reheated frozen meal.
Homemade Freezer Meals
Consider preparing and freezing homemade meals with fresh, wholesome ingredients. This allows you to control the nutrient content from the start.
Use Whole Grains
Choose frozen meals that incorporate whole grains instead of refined grains for added fibre and nutrients.
Vitamin C and B-Vitamins
These water-soluble vitamins are sensitive to heat, and some loss may occur during freezing and reheating. However, the overall impact is often minimal.
Protein content is generally well-preserved during freezing and reheating processes.
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Fibre content may decrease slightly, but the impact varies based on the type of fibre and the cooking method.
Essential minerals like iron and calcium are relatively stable during freezing and reheating. While frozen food can be a convenient and nutritious option, making it healthier through reheating depends on various factors.
Choosing nutrient-rich frozen meals, mindful reheating methods, and incorporating fresh ingredients are key steps in maximising the health benefits. Overall, a balanced and varied diet, including a mix of fresh and frozen foods, contributes to optimal nutrition.
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