Now here is something that I get asked quite often. Is there a difference between fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. While many people think that Frozen don’t contain as many nutrients or aren’t as good for you, as long as there are no sauces or preservatives added, it can be quite the opposite of what you think. While although fresh is great, frozen allows you to have your favourite fruits and vegetables all year round even when they aren’t in season.
Freezing is generally considered to have very little effect on the nutrient content of foods. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked when they are fully ripe and are then frozen shortly after they are picked. This means that they are generally at their nutritional peak and still packed with lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Some fruits and vegetables are blanched (submerged in hot water for a period of time and then taken out and submerged in cold water to halt the cooking process) before frozen to inactivate the enzymes and yeasts that would still continue to cause food spoilage even in the freezer.
A study conducted by Favell (Frozen food info, 2000) showed consistently that he Vitamin C content of frozen vegetables is at least equal to and sometimes better than that of fresh vegetables. He compared the Vitamin C content of fresh peas, green beans, carrots and spinach with the same vegetables harvested, prepared, blanched and quick-frozen under normal commercial conditions. While Fresh spinach had a higher retention of Vitamin C, after 2 days both the Spinach in the fridge and at room temperature had dropped below that of the frozen spinach (70%). On the reverse side, it took 14 days for peas stored in the fridge to lose the same amount of vitamin C content to equal that of frozen peas, which have 70% Vitamin C retention.
While personally I think fresh produce is best, frozen are a great alternative when you are time poor or don’t have the convenience of a close supermarket. However, be sure to avoid frozen dinners as they generally have lots of preservatives added and have undergone further processing.
When it comes to preserving the nutrients in your veggies, the way that they are stored and prepared is more important than whether they are frozen or fresh. I personally suggest buying your fruits and vegetables seasonally so as to get the full benefits nutritionally from them.
Frozen food info, 2000. Frozen vegetables – do they count?, Frozen food Information bureau, Viewed June 28 2016.