Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Fruit & Veg Doesn’t Have To Be Fresh

I’ve just been looking at the British Nutrition Foundation’s website and read something that I found particularly interesting.

These days there’s a lot of talk about how we should all be eating fresh veg straight from the farmer’s field or, preferably, from our gardens, but for me it isn’t always that easy. My energy levels are often very low, my legs hurt when I stand for longer than a few minutes and although I can make some meals from scratch, I do depend on quick alternatives. By that I mean canned, frozen and dried foods.

Because of the stigma attached to canned and ready frozen veg these days, I feel almost embarrassed to admit that I use them - some people look at me as if I’m some kind of delinquent that’s just dropped from the top of a monkey puzzle tree. But when you can’t keep up with the ‘healthy’ alternative, what’s a girl to do? Go without?

Anyway, it turns out that fresh veg is no better for us than the pre-prepared stuff anyway so I’d been beating myself up for not giving my daughter the best kind of food available when there was really no need. Processed marrowfat peas are actually just as nutritious as fresh peas and if I put tinned apples in my pie, it doesn’t really matter although it's always best to avoid those that contain artificial colouring, flavouring and the likes.

What does matter is the salt content so if you’re like me and use canned alternatives to supplement the fresh stuff (or even instead of), it’s important you choose vegetables that are canned in water with no added salt. Too much salt really isn’t good for us and according to the Department of Health & Food Standard Agency, the average person gets more than enough without having to add any to their food at all.

When it comes to canned fruit, try to avoid anything that’s canned in syrup, choosing those canned in juice instead because syrup has a much higher sugar content and that’s another no-no if you’re serious about healthy eating.

I don’t personally care for them but even baked beans count towards your five a day. Beans can only be counted once though, regardless of how many times you eat them or how many varieties. The same goes for fruit drinks so even if you drink juice with breakfast, a smoothie at lunchtime and a glass of squash in the evening, you’ll still only have had one portion.

Of course, there's always the argument regarding the amounts of resources used when vegetables are canned, the carbon miles travelled and so forth but looking at those issues too would be overkill in one blog post. Maybe I'll come back to it later. Assuming I remember, that is.

Even though I don’t need my 5-a-day because of the TPN and my bowel’s lack of ability to absorb nutrients, I still feel it’s better somehow to get them and I certainly want my kids and guests to be getting them while they’re here.

Sharon J

PS: It’s worth a gander at the BNF website, there’s loads of useful information there.


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Debi said...

Yep - nothing wrong nutritionally with tinned and frozen veg (esp if additive free). In fact, in all likelihood they may well be 'fresher' having been packaged soon after picking.

But I've always been a bit confused by 'processed' peas. What are these processes? And what makes them different from ordinary tinned peas?

Frugal Trenches said...

I always think it's about a balance. The problem with tinned often is the salty flavour for me, but I certainly eat tinned beans once a week!And I enjoy them :0)

Catz said...

Thank goodness for that! I love frozen peas and think they are possibly better than fresh. Also we didn't get our organic box delivery today so will be living off our stores of frozen and tinned fruit and veg for the next week. Good point about avoiding the added salt though, I shall start reading the labels!

Anonymous said...

OOh Marrowfat peas - I haven't eaten them for years - might have to buy some tomorrow and eat them cold straight out of the tin!
Especially as a plague of rabbits has descended upon my veg patch, none of whom are dapper in blue and all of whom I would shoot if I didn't have my vegtarian eye on a place in Heaven.

Sharon J said...

@ Debi. Good questions, hun, and one that got me curious.

Apparently 'processed' means 'altered in some way' which can include freezing, drying, pasturising, etc. It can also mean that they've had preservatives added.

When it comes to processed peas, they've been dried then re-hydrated and heated before being canned.

Milk, dry pasta and sultanas have all been processed so it's not necessarily a bad thing.

@ Frugal Trenches. I think you're probably right about the balance. As for the salt, more veg seems to be canned in unsalted water these days so I always look for those.

@ Catz. I'm also trying to use up some of what's in my store cupboard (easier now that I'm organised again) and it's good to know that my family are getting equally as nourishing food as they would if I'd bought everything fresh.

@ Cherry Rolfe. I love marrowfat peas too, but cold straight from the tin? Ewwwww.

Pesky rabbits. Shame they're cute and furry instead of ugly and slimey like slugs ;)

Pat said...

I've always wondered about processed peas as well so thanks for clearing that up. I don't fancy mine ccold either.

Sharon J said...

You're welcome :)