People who eat frozen produce tend to eat healthier overall, study finds

WASHINGTON — With the farm-to-table trend in eateries taking off and the continued emphasis on people buying fresh fruit and vegetables at grocery stores, you might be surprised to learn that eating frozen produce is more beneficial for your health than you’d suspect, a new study finds.

Dr. Maureen Storey, a food scientist, led a study that analyzed data derived from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) through the four-year period ending in 2014.

Frozen fruits
People who eat frozen produce tend to adhere to healthier diets overall and eat more fruits and vegetables, a new study finds.

The NHANES, conducted annually, is administered by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is in turn part of the CDC.

In the course of her research, Dr. Storey found that those who consumed frozen fruits and vegetables also ate more total fruits and veggies than those who solely stuck to non-frozen produce.

To accompany higher fruit and veggie consumption, tangible health benefits among this group were also observed: those who ate frozen produce were more likely to have sufficient intake of recommended nutrients of concern, while simultaneously possessing a lower BMI (body mass index).

“Nutrients of concern,” as they are defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, include calcium, potassium, dietary fiber, and Vitamin D. Low intake of any of these nutrients can lead to adverse health outcomes.

“At a time when Americans are only eating half of the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables, our research shows that eating frozen fruits and vegetables can help fill the gap in fruit and vegetable consumption,” says Dr. Storey in a Frozen Food Foundation press release. “In addition to increased consumption of nutrients of concern, frozen fruit and vegetable consumers also had a higher intake of vitamins A and C.”

While the study’s findings do present promising evidence of the potential for frozen produce to fill a nutritional gap, it is important to note that the research was funded by the Frozen Food Foundation, a non-profit advocacy group.

“This research adds substantiation to the growing body of evidence that supports the important role frozen fruits and vegetables can play to help Americans meet daily intake recommendations set by the DGAs,” says Frozen Food Foundation President and CEO Alison Bodor. “While this research focused on fruits and vegetables, frozen foods and beverages also provide consumers with nutritious and convenient meals options while minimizing food waste.”

Nevertheless, this study is a great place to start further inquiry into fulfilling the nutritional needs of all Americans.

The study’s findings were presented at the 2017 Experimental Biology meeting in Chicago.