When it comes to buying produce and other foods, you probably think that "fresh" is the best way to go. But sometimes, what's labeled fresh isn't always the best choice, and what is frozen can sometimes contain more nutrients for a healthy and balanced diet. With many variables pertaining to fresh vs. frozen fruits and vegetables, it can often be difficult to know what the definitive healthy choice can be.
Frozen Fresh or Freshly Frozen?
Depending on where you live and the consistency of the climate, the notion of buying fresh produce can vary. Fresh produce shipped in from other areas can lose its nutrition while some frozen produce is picked fresh in peak season and immediately frozen; therefore, it is able to retain almost all of the healthy nutrients you are looking for in the first place.
The loss of nutrients can also depend on the type of produce, according to professors and researchers at Tufts University. Leafy green vegetables are the most susceptible to nutrition loss. Fresh spinach can lose over half its nutrients in eight days. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables with skins or shells, like oranges, grapes, and squash, retain their nutrients for a much longer period of time. Overall, experts report that the important thing is to get your recommended daily serving of fruits and vegetables, no matter if they are fresh or frozen. When it comes to frozen vegetables, here are a few things to look for:
- Avoid vegetables with added salt
- Stay away from fruits with added sugars
- Buy "whole" fruits and vegetables
- Avoid chopped, peeled, and crushed frozen produce
Other Areas of Consideration
In some cases, even if you make healthy choices you can still end up losing out on the benefits of fruits and vegetables due to preparation methods. When it comes to preparing vegetables, lightly steamed or raw is the way to go in order to retain most of a food's nutritional value. Boiling spinach can cause more loss of folate in comparison to letting it sit in the fridge for a few days. Frozen food is often considered cheaper as well, but some frozen foods just don't have the right flavor or texture after being thawed. If you are not getting the full nutritional value out of your produce and you are not enjoying taste and texture, you are losing on both ends.
The End Game
Understanding the nuances of how to get the best nutritional value from the good choices you make can help you further refine your diet to support your health. Supporting your dietary choices with the right supplements can also help promote overall good health. Choosing the right foods and adding a daily multivitamin can be the one-two punch that sets you on the right path for attaining that healthy overall lifestyle you're aiming for.
- Gorman RM. Fresh vs. Frozen Vegetables: Are we giving up nutrition for convenience? EatingWell.com. www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/fresh_vs_frozen_vegetables_are_we_giving_up_nutrition_fo