When it comes to fruit and vegetables, the common belief is that fresh is better. This has been a staple of nutritional education for the most part and is widely recognized as a best practice when shopping for fruits and vegetables. With more research being done on the subject, though, some are beginning to observe that the nutritional difference between fresh and frozen is not what most traditional wisdom teaches. In fact, some studies have shown that frozen fruits and vegetables actually have more nutritional value than fresh produce.
“Sealed In” Nutrients
When produce is frozen, it can seal in the nutrients. For frozen vegetables and fruit, the freezing process generally happens soon after it is picked, thus preserving a great deal of the nutrients. For fresh fruit, once it is picked, it still has to be transported to local grocery stores. This process in some instances can take a few days, during which time the fruit and vegetables can lose some of those nutrients.
In multiple studies, including research from the University of Georgia and the University of California Davis, frozen produce was found to have as much and in some instances more nutritional value than fresh produce.
Another benefit of frozen food is it can be used for longer time periods. Fresh fruit and vegetables generally have to be consumed within a few days of buying them and the longer they sit, the more nutrients they lose. Frozen fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, maintain the same nutrients from the time they are frozen until they are consumed, as long as they are consumed prior to the expiration date.
No Added Salt
While frozen fruits and vegetables have been found to have relatively the same nutritional value as fresh produce, canned produce does not. Salt is generally added to preserve canned vegetables and fruits, which impacts the nutritional value. The freezing process, though, does not generally require salt be added, which is why the nutritional value is relative to fresh produce.
The most important thing is to make sure you are getting the correct amount of fruits and vegetables. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The next time you’re in a Michigan or Indiana Supermarket, be sure to check the frozen fruit and vegetable aisle and the fresh produce section.