Fresh fruit and vegetables are often seen to be a better nutrient dense food source compared to those which are frozen; But how much truth resides in such a statement? Fresh fruit and vegetables MUST be better for you, right? In this article we compare the two and which is best in nutrient quality.
Fresh is Best?
Fresh fruit and vegetables are often picked pre ripened off the vine to elongate it’s shelf life. This pre ripened picking of fruit and vegetables does however, reduce the nurtient content as pre picking doesn’t allow for the full spectrum of vitamins and nutrients to develop. Delicate nutrients such as vitamin C and vitaman B thiamin, also decline during the long process of getting the produce from farm to fork, due to exposure to the elements (heat and light).
To get the best nutrient enriched produce, aim for fruit and vegetables that are in season and ripened on the vine where possible.
Frozen foods are often subjected to blanching before being frozen to kill off bacteria and to arrest the action of food degrading enzymes. During this process water soluble nutrients such as vitamin C and vitamin B are broken down and also causes these nutrients to ‘bleed’ out through the blanching process. The subsequent freezing of the produce locks in the remaining nutrients and elongates shelf life, although frozen foods will inevitably break down over time (months).
The decision as to whether fresh or frozen is best, ultimately lies with what works best for your lifestyle. Fresh produce requires more trips to the local supermarket whereas frozen foods will keep for longer.
- Buy produce when foods are in season whether fresh or frozen. Consume fresh foods soon after purchasing. Frozen foods will keep for longer.
- Nutrients are lost during the cooking process. Steaming produce is best to reduce nutrient loss. Eating produce raw will always have more nutrients over cooked.
- Aim to buy produce from the country that you live in. Less time in transit equates to more nutrient dense foods.
- Studies have shown that frozen foods can pack more nutrients than fresh foods however, this is highly dependent on the manufacturers freezing process. Click here for the in depth antioxidant report of the University of chester.
- Whether you consume fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables take solace in the fact that you’re eating wholesome foods.