Comparing Fresh, Frozen, and Canned Produce for a Low-Glycemic Diet
8 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Choosing Low-Glycemic Foods
Small differences can occur in the glycemic level and nutrient value of food (especially produce) depending on how it’s packaged. These differences aren’t always drastic, but they’re good to know about anyway. Here’s what you should know about glycemic loads for fresh, frozen, and canned produce:
Fresh produce is much better at retaining nutrient value; it also has a lower glycemic load. The closer your food is to its harvest time, the more nutrients it retains, which makes locally grown produce an especially good option because it hasn’t had to travel from another city, state, or country. Always watch for freshness in your fresh fruits and vegetables, whether you’re purchasing locally or not.
Bruises and wilting in produce may be the result of improper handling or a sign that the food is past its peak (meaning it has fewer nutrients to offer you).
Frozen produce has a slightly lower amount of retained nutrients than fresh and a similar glycemic load. These products are frozen immediately after being cleaned and processed, which helps them retain more nutrients. Frozen produce can be a great economical value during off-seasons. Just make sure you’re not choosing frozen fruits that have sugar added to them.
Frozen fruits and vegetables (and even meats) are great to have on hand as a fast and easy way to round out your meals.
Canned produce loses some of its nutrients and often has a bit higher glycemic load than fresh or frozen produce. For example, raw apricots have a glycemic load of 5 whereas canned apricots have a glycemic load of 12. Heating during the canning process is part of the explanation for this higher number; the other part is that foods, specifically fruits, are often canned in light syrup. You’re better off hunting for canned fruits that aren’t stored in syrup when you’re trying to follow a low-glycemic diet.
When it comes to vegetables, especially beans, canned foods are great convenience items, and their glycemic load is similar to that of the fresh option.