I’ve recently had some guests at The Resort wondering if it’s okay nutritionally to eat frozen fruits and vegetables as opposed to fresh. The short answer is, yes, frozen fruits and vegetables are a great option. In fact, they can be even more nutritious than fresh produce, depending on when the fresh produce is picked and how long it has spent travelling or sitting in the refrigerator.
During National Nutrition Month in 2010, Emily gave a few great tips on frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables. This tip (click the link) discusses how frozen fruits and vegetables can sometimes be more nutritious than fresh. This tip (click the link) gives great information about buying local produce or signing up for a local fruit/vegetable co-op.
Certainly, the best, most nutritious fruits and vegetables to consume are those that have been produced locally, grown in their proper season, picked when ripe, and eaten fresh shortly after they are picked. This is where growing your own produce or shopping at local farmer’s markets comes in handy. But for some of us, this is not realistic.
Frozen fruits and vegetables can be great because they are picked at the peak of their ripeness, when they are the most nutritious. They are then blanched and flash frozen, which keeps or locks the nutrients in. In other words, the freezing process stops the action of enzymes that can slowly reduce the amount of certain vitamins like vitamin C and some B vitamins. It should be noted, however, that this same process also results in the loss of some nutrients, like thiamin.
Another benefit of frozen fruits and vegetables–they can be less expensive, which is helpful for those of us on a tight budget. They are also very versatile. Frozen produce can be used in a variety of ways. Frozen vegetables can be added to dishes like soups, stir-frys, casseroles and chili, or just cooked and eaten plain. Frozen fruits are great in recipes like smoothies and fruit-based desserts.
It’s important to keep in mind that some frozen fruits and vegetables can have added sugars, salt or fat, so look for plain varieties without these added ingredients.
For more information on the benefits of frozen fruits and vegetables as well as the proper way to handle produce to maximize its nutritional value, check out this informative article (click the link).
The most important thing to remember is to eat more fruits and vegetables in general, whether they are fresh, frozen or canned. The benefits from doing so are numerous!
Rachel Andrew MPH, RD, CD