If you’re anything like me, you know how hard it is to buy fresh fruits and vegetables each week only for 1/3 of them to go bad! In order to save time, and produce, (and money), I started to freeze or buy frozen fruits and vegetables so I could quickly incorporate them into my meals. It felt good to finally have an easy and cost effective way to get in my daily nutrients- but I still had this nagging feeling that it still wasn’t good enough. I had heard that frozen/ canned fruits and vegetables don’t carry the nutritional value as fresh. Then, I decided to do some research. Here are all of the facts about the whole fresh vs. frozen debate.
Frozen Fruit and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are frozen when they are the most ripe, and most nutritious. Some nutrients are lost in vegetables during the blanching process where vegetables are boiled for a short period of time in order to kill off bacteria. Water soluble vitamins such as Vitamin B and Vitamin C may be removed in this process. Fruits are either treated with ascorbic acid or sugar in order to help their preservation. While some nutrients are lost over time while the produce is frozen, the nutrient loss is generally minimal and most consider the nutrition value of fresh and frozen produce very comparable to one another. Some nutrients begin to break down when frozen produce is stored for more than a year.
- Foods high in water soluble vitamins are probably better fresh: bell peppers, citrus fruits, and berries.
- Foods high in fat-soluble nutrients (vitamin A, carotenoids, and vitamin E) are better frozen because they’re more stable during food processing and storage: carrots, leafy greens, and broccoli.
- Boiling or steaming some veggies (like broccoli and carrots) may actually boost levels of free radical-trapping antioxidants and phytochemicals like carotenoids and polyphenols.
- Lightly and quickly cooking vegetables and using less liquid will minimize vitamin loss when cooking.
Generally the actual flavor of the produce is lost over time, however, if you are short on time and on a tight budget, frozen may be the best option for you!