We all know we need a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables in our diet, but the question is, are we giving up nutrition for convenience? Is there really a nutritional difference between fresh and frozen produce? While it seems instinctive to assume fresh produce would yield more nutritional benefits than frozen, there are often many misconceptions on this topic.
Fruit is most fresh and nutrient rich when it is pulled from the ground. However, what most people don’t know is that “fresh” produce is often picked before peak ripeness. Manufacturers do this purposely so the fruit doesn’t get damaged during shipping. There may be signs of ripeness apparent, but these vegetables lack the nutritive value they would’ve had if they were picked at ideal ripeness. Also fresh produce is exposed to increased heat during these long-distance shipments which diminishes some vital nutrients including vitamins B and C.
On the other hand, frozen produce is picked at peak ripeness and then frozen immediately. To properly sterilize the produce, a process called blanching occurs in which the produce is cooked in boiling water before being frozen. During this process some nutrients may be lost, but the majority of the nutritive value is still intact. However it’s important to remember to use a microwave or steamer to reheat the frozen produce as boiling it will degrade some of the nutritional value.
The Federal Drug Administration did a study in 1998 on the nutrition difference between fresh and frozen produce. They found that there is no difference in nutrition between the two because the nutrients lost in commercial production of fresh produce is relative to the nutrients lost in blanching and reheating of frozen produce. Regardless of fresh or frozen, the most important thing is that you’re getting 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.