Fresh or Frozen, Fruits and Vegetables, Which Is More Nutritious?
Getting enough fruits and vegetables each day can be a challenge for most people. Fresh produce may not always be available. This has led to the expansion of the frozen food market.
Frozen foods offer an easily accessible and convenient option that contributes to the consumption of fruits and vegetables. However, there is debate as to whether frozen foods are as nutritious as fresh foods. Let's look at how they compare nutritionally.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
The ideal consumption of fruits and vegetables is fresh, in-season, locally grown produce. Farmers' markets are an excellent choice for finding fresh, local produce. However, native or local produce is not always possible.
In the United States, produce can take anywhere from three days to several weeks to ship before it reaches your local grocery store. Fresh produce is stored in a refrigerated, controlled environment and sometimes treated with chemicals to prevent it from spoiling.
Picking produce before it is fully ripe does have its drawbacks.
If picked early, produce does not have time to develop a variety of vitamins, minerals and natural antioxidants.
Fresh fruits and fresh vegetables begin to lose moisture shortly after harvest and lose nutritional value.
Water-soluble vitamins begin to decline immediately after harvest. Vitamin C content declines during transport and storage.
Green leafy vegetables are the most delicate and most susceptible to nutrient loss because they do not have a shell or skin to protect them.
Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Frozen fruits and vegetables are convenient and are picked at the peak of ripeness. This means they are harvested when they are most nutritious. When comparing vegetables and fruits, the post-harvest process looks slightly different.
Once harvested, vegetables are usually washed, blanched, cut, frozen and packaged within a few hours. Blanching involves placing the fresh vegetables in boiling water. This takes only a few minutes to kill harmful bacteria and prevent loss of flavor, color and texture. The vegetables must then be quickly cooled in ice cold water to stop the cooking process.
Fruits are washed, cut, frozen and packaged similarly to vegetables. Fruits can be treated with ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is a form of vitamin C that can help prevent spoilage. Fruits lose less nutrients during the freezing and packing process because they are not subjected to the rinsing process.
Frozen product advantages
Overall, the nutritional content of fresh and frozen foods differs only slightly. Fresh foods begin with a nutrient deficit because they are picked before peak ripeness. Frozen foods lose some nutrients during the blanching process. But freezing also helps maintain nutritional value.
While the nutritional content of fresh and frozen products is relatively similar, frozen products may have a slight advantage because of the additional convenience it provides. Often, your customers may have difficulty eating enough fruits and vegetables simply because of time requirements. Frozen foods offer a simple, nutritious and convenient solution.
Don't overthink it
Ultimately, the biggest problem is that people don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. It's not that they're eating the wrong fruits and vegetables. If your customers have access to fresh produce and they like to prepare it, that's great. If they prefer to buy frozen vegetables and steam them in the microwave while they work on another project, great! Ultimately, the nutritional value of fresh and frozen is very similar.
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