Summer is upon us! That means farmer’s markets, fresh produce, and more variety! I love heading to the farmer’s market to get some fresh produce over the summer months. The smell of the fresh tomatoes and strawberries immediately evoke a sense of vibrant health. But is it really true that fresh vegetables and fruits are more nutritious than their frozen counterparts or is it just a belief based on our intuition.
I was quite surprised to learn from a vendor at a farmers market that there is no real nutritional difference between frozen and fresh. I also learned that fresh produce is harvested before its peak ripeness (meaning also its nutritional peak) to avoid bruising and spoilage during transport.
On the other hand, frozen veggies and fruits are picked at their peak ripeness and immediately frozen. Once they are frozen the nutrients are “locked in”. Hence nutrient loss is minimal compared to fresh produce that has been sitting in the fridge and at the supermarket suffering “jet lag” from transport.
Studies looking at the vitamin and mineral content of fresh vs frozen produce found that most frozen veggies and fruit retains just as many nutrients (if not more) than fresh. Another great benefit of frozen produce is that it is a time saver! It is often pre-chopped, washed and ready to go. Because freezing is a natural great way to preserve food, frozen fruits and veggies will be free from preservatives.
No one can deny that the less processing a food goes through the better. “Fresh from the garden” always offers more nutritional value when it is immediately consumed. However, frozen is not a bad alternative at all. Consuming frozen produce is an excellent way to get a wide variety of fruits and vegetables all year round. (especially for us Canadians). It also offers a convenient way for those that are pinched for time to get in our daily intake of fruits and vegetables. So stop feeling guilty the next time you serve frozen veggies to your family. It is not a bad thing!