Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Myth: Store-bought frozen stir-fry mixes are healthy choices.

Answer: BUSTED! Kind of...

The importance of eating more vegetables is constantly being stressed, for good reasons. Eating vegetables and fruits may help reduce your risk of developing many chronic diseases. Getting at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits per day is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. Some vegetables and fruits may even ward off certain cancers. So you may think frozen stir-fry mixes are good choices to boost your veggie intake.

In this corner – the benefit of frozen stir-fry mixes:
If these stir-fry mixes help you get more vegetables in your diet, then that’s definitely a good thing. Vegetables (and fruits) are relatively low in calories and they have fiber which fills you up, keeping you feeling satisfied. This is especially important for those having a hard time maintaining a healthy weight or trying to lose weight.

In this corner – the concern about frozen stir-fry mixes:
Sodium. Most Americans consume too much salt or sodium, most of which comes from processed or convenience foods. Looking at the label of a frozen stir-fry mix the other day, I noted that 1¼ cups has 290 mg of sodium. If you eat a lot of processed or pre-made convenience foods, your sodium intake can easily add up to more than the 2300 mg of sodium each day recommended in the recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines report.

homemade stir fry
What’s a consumer to do?
Why not make your own stir fry? Veggie stir-fry dishes are very easy and quick to make. When you make your own you have control over what ingredients go in the dish, which is the BEST way to make sure you are cutting down on the sodium in your diet.

Here’s a sweet but spicy liquid to stir-fry your veggies in: ½ t minced dried garlic, ¼ t chipotle pepper powder, ½ t cinnamon, ½ t ground cloves, ½ t ground nutmeg, ¼ t black pepper, 2 T brown sugar, ½ t orange zest, ½ cup water, ½ cup orange juice.

Visit the MissouriFamilies website for more information about nutrition and health.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, schusterer@missouri.edu, 573-882-1933


  1. You can definitely get the nutrients that you need through stir-fry mixes. There are different vegetables in the mix which can really help boost our health.

  2. Ellen Schuster, Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri ExtensionFebruary 23, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    Yes, you are right. The point of the blog was to point out that stir-fry mixes have unnecessary salt in them. When you make them at home you can omit some of the sodium from flavorings. In light of the recent 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most Americans need to reduce their daily sodium intake. Thanks for your comment!

  3. there are some packs of stir fry vegetables that have the spices in a separate bag so that you control the amount of salts and spices in your food.


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