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Are Frozen Foods Safe To Eat?

March 8th, 2014 Healthy Living

Longer work hours, less sleep and more responsibilities during the average person's day have all stolen time usually devoted to making home-cooked meals. Some families might eat a handful of meals cooked with fresh ingredients throughout the week, while others may eat processed or frozen foods every day of the week.

Usually, frozen foods are thought of as nutritionally inferior to their fresh counterparts, and some fitness gurus have attacked entrees pulled from the freezer as harmful to your health. However, while the taste of certain frozen foods may not stack up to the fresh variety, meals frozen correctly are perfectly healthy to eat.

Freezing meat, fish and vegetables
If you've ever watched a cooking show on TV, you'll know that the major difference between fresh and frozen foods is quality. While some foodstuffs like fish will suffer in quality compared to others, the U.S. Department of Agriculture explained the if freezing procedures are followed correctly, frozen foods pose no more threat to your health than fresh ones.

According to the USDA, fresh foods usually need to be eaten within hours of purchase, because naturally present bacteria and molds will grow at normal temperatures and eventually render the food inedible. Freezing food below zero degrees Fahrenheit, however, slows and halts the activity of these organisms. While they may still exist on frozen foods like chicken or meat, they will not grow if kept sufficiently cold. Once thawed, a thorough cooking will remove all undesirable microbes from your meal.

The USDA also outlined why the public has a low opinion of frozen foods's nutritional content. While freshness will always produce the best taste, proper freezing practices can ensure a high quality of taste when the foods are eventually thawed. The agency recommended freezing food as quickly as possible at peak quality. The speed will prevent damaging ice crystals from forming, and if frozen at the right time, the thawed material will be as close to that quality as possible.

Microwaving frozen foods
Nowadays, many people are choosing to speed up their daily kitchen routines with ready-to-eat microwaveable meals. Many of these can be stored in the refrigerator or the freezer, but they also suffer a reputation as being inherently bad for your health regardless of the ingredients.

FitDay explained that just because what's inside these meals may not be as healthy as fresh foods, the pre-sized portions of frozen foods can be perfect for those looking to lose weight. Pasta, for example, is a food that when served fresh has very few negative health benefits. However, it can be difficult to determine how much is enough for one person, and the high starch content of pasta could lead to unnecessary calories from even the freshest ingredients. Frozen foods have clearly labeled nutritional information and pre-determined portions to keep even the most wanton dieters in check.

FitDay warned vigilant consumers that while some meals may advertise themselves as healthy options that include fruit and vegetables, they may be hiding calories in heavy sauces and sugary syrups. Check the ingredients on the box and follow this rule of thumb - the fewer ingredients, the better.