Is fresh food really best?
According to New Magazine many celebs have credited eating a diet of fresh, natural food for keeping them in shape. Fitness buddies Madonna, 49, and Gwyneth Paltrow, 35 have followed fresh food diets in a bid to maximise their nutrient intake and keep them looking young. But as fresh food rapidly loses its goodness once it’s been picked or killed, is it really worth the extra cost and inconvenience? Alex Shalet, a nutritional therapist at health shop chain the NutriCentre, says fresh is best for your diet – but only if the food is really fresh. “Unless you buy fruit and veg within one or two days of it being picked, fresh could be the worst option,” he says. “In comparison some canned and frozen produce is better for you, and today’s hectic modern world it’s not always possible to source the best fresh foods so it may be a case of picking and mixing.” Here looks at the advantages and disadvantages of fresh, canned and frozen food, to help you decide what’s best for your body.
We’re forever being told of the virtues of fresh food, so you’d think it was better for you than canned or frozen, right?Not necessarily.Fruit and vegetables, for example, start losing nutrients as soon as they are picked.By the time they work their way onto supermarket shelves, then sit around in your fridge, the nutrient content could have been reduced as much as 75 per cent. “Some fruit and veg is flown in from other countries or stored in ships,” says Alex.“It isn’t subjected to as much preservation as canned or frozen food, but it does taste better.”Despite the gloom, he believes fresh is still best, as long as it is really fresh. And that’s exactly how fans of the raw food diet – such as Demi Moore, 45, – have been said to work their eating plans.“Some of the box schemes, where you can get local, seasonal, organic produce delivered to your door, are very good.” Says Alex.Or better still, you could grow your own produce.Alex’s bottom line is that all food, including meat and fish is better fresh. But he admits “We live hectic lifestyles and we work long hours, so it’s not always possible to find the freshest food we can.
Channel Hayes, 20, is a big fan of tinned tomatoes, which she uses to make tomato soup. And she’ll be pleased to know that buying the canned variety over fresh could be great for her skin. “Plant-based antioxidants are great for your health, and they are undamaged by the canning processed which can involve high levels of heat says Alex. “Also, if you heat tomatoes, you actually liberate the Lycopene in them, making it easier for your body to absorb. Lycopene, an antioxidant, helps your skin by protecting you form UV radiation.” Tinned fish may seem like a convenient way to eat seafood, but it lacks the essential omega-3 fatty acids needed for good heart and brain health. “if you freeze fish it will affect the taste but not the omega-3 content.” Says Alex.“Canned fish like tuna or salmon isn’t high in omega-3 because of the heating process involved.Canned fish is still ok, but as it also tends to come in salt, oil or brine, it may not be great for your diet.”In fact, many tinned foods are mixed with salt or sugar to preserve them and add taste.“Excess sugar has been linked to many different diseases, particularly heart disease, obesity and diabetes,” says Alex. “It rots your teeth, too. Salt is linked to blood pressure issues. People consume way too much salt in the form of Sodium Chloride and not enough potassium, the opposing mineral. They balance each other out – fruit and veg is high on potassium.”Because canned food has usually been heated at a high temperature to kill off bacteria nutrients can often be destroyed. Also, the plastic coatings on the inside of cans have been linked to cancer and male fertility problems, as they contain compounds which mimic the female hormone, oestrogen. On the upside, canned food is convenient and cheap, plus it lasts for ages. What’s more, pulses like kidney beans and chick peas are difficult to prepare if you don’t buy them in a can as you have to soak them overnight.“Plus, you’d eat pulses mainly for their protein and fibre and canning shouldn’t alter these.” Says Alex. He advises taking a good multi-vitamin supplement to ensure you get all the nutrients you need.“My argument is no matter how good your diet is, you do have an increased requirement for certain nutrients that you may not be getting, if you buy a supplement you know what level of vitamins and minerals your getting.”
As the face of frozen food supermarket Iceland. Kerry Katona, 27, will be pleased to know that frozen food can be better than fresh. “Frozen veg is frozen within hours of picking and you can’t compete with that.” Says Alex. “If you’re not worried about flavour then frozen is very good. Personally, I do buy a lot of my food frozen. It is nutritionally better than most fresh foods as nutrients are locked in when they’re frozen. When frozen foods have been compared to fresh in studies, they have fared better. Plus, it’s cheaper and more convenient.”Alex’s only concern is that freezing can damage the enzymes in foods that fans of raw food diets rave about.Theses enzymes are said to help improve your digestion which, in turn can help guard against food sensitivities.“Also, if you have frozen food that you need to defrost, like berries, the ice crystals break down and take some of the berries with them. There ‘s a potential to lose some nutrient content.”As for meat and fish, Alex says it is a matter of taste rather than nutritional content.“I tend to buy fresh, organic meat, because you know where it has come from, it’s more natural and its in tune with how we should be eating.
Credit: New Magazine