When you’re trying to clean up your diet, you probably try to stay away from the grocery store’s frozen food aisle. After all, it’s packed with ice cream, pizzas, and other not-so-good-for-you selections. However, there is a clever strategy that many shoppers don’t take advantage of: browsing the frozen food aisle for cheaper versions of what you find in the produce section. In order to determine the best of the best, we spoke to doctors on their top frozen foods to buy, and which foods can even help with living a longer life.
In fact, you may be surprised when you check the back label of frozen vegetables, fruits, and more, to find the only ingredient is what’s written on the front of the bag. So, why not save a few bucks, too?
Here are the frozen foods doctors recommend for longer life, and for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
While nearly all frozen vegetables are a smart pick, author and board-certified pediatrician Reshma Sha, MD, MPH gives extra bonus points to frozen edamame or soybeans. How come? They’re an excellent source of fiber that’s beneficial for our heart and digestive system, as well as our gut health. Plus, she says they’re packed with protein, folate, vitamin K for bone health, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
“[Plus], isoflavones in soy have antioxidant properties. Studies suggest that it may help to protect against breast and prostate cancer as well as lower LDL cholesterol and help with menopausal symptoms,” she says.
Have you ever been warned by a friend or family member that frozen fruits (and veggies) lose all of their nutritional value? According to Dr. Seema Sarin, the director of lifestyle medicine for EHE Health, this is a commonly-believed myth and one that doesn’t hold up merit. In addition to being more budget-mindful, the frozen version of your go-to berries and mangoes make your smoothie instantly cold, without having to add ice. And you decrease waste since sometimes, you’re not hungry for an entire, oversized head of cauliflower.
“Although frozen, these foods are still jam-packed with important vitamins and minerals,” she says.
If you’re looking for delicious smoothies to blend up, check out our list of 27 Best Immune-Boosting Smoothie Recipes.
If your busy schedule doesn’t allow you the time to chop a variety of colorful vegetables for a stir-fry, buy a frozen pre-made pack instead. Dr. Sarin says you keep the meal vegetarian or add a lean protein for a balanced, nutritious lunch or dinner.
“As eating a rainbow of vegetables daily helps to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers,” she says.
However, it is essential to also look at the nutritional label for frozen foods. As Dr. Sarin warns, many contain more sodium than needed.
“Aim for getting less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day as part of a healthy eating pattern,” she says.
Next time you take a trip down the frozen food aisle, be sure to stock up on these 16 Best Frozen Foods for Losing Weight.
Another versatile freezer staple with many nutritional benefits is good ‘ole fashioned green peas. Unlike many other vegetables, Dr. Shah says peas are a good source of protein, as well as dietary fiber, vitamins A, C, K, and folate.
“An added benefit of peas is that they can easily be added to soups, stews, kinds of pasta, and a variety of other dishes,” she says.
Plus, did you know that frozen peas are the Most Underrated Frozen Food at the Grocery Store?
Between managing your career, your personal life, and your sanity, making time in the middle of your day to whip up lunch isn’t realistic. But, buying fast food daily isn’t a good choice for your waistline—or your overall longevity and health. That’s why Dr. Sarin suggests researching nutritional frozen burrito bowls that contain one vital ingredient: beans! From black to pinto, and many others, these small yet mighty superstars are a key ingredient in a balanced meal.
“They are full of fiber and a list of vitamins and minerals,” she says. “Plus, it is even believed that adding more beans to your diet can reduce the risk of conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.”
A lot of frozen food brands have frozen quinoa bowls. And for a good reason: it’s not only trendy, but it’s also super beneficial for your health today and tomorrow, according to Dr. Sarin. As she explains, quinoa is incredibly rich in fiber, lysine, and protein.
“This grain may be the star of the show with these meals, but it is often accompanied by foods such as corn, beans, kale, and bell peppers, all of which have a high nutritional value,” she says. “These dishes check a lot of boxes for people with special diet preferences such as vegan or gluten-free.”
So stock up your freezer with these frozen foods for longer life, and also take a look at our list of Best Frozen Breakfast Foods for Weight Loss.