If you take a peek inside my freezer you will see that it is jam packed full of frozen fruits and vegetables. It is a very convenient way to ensure we always have fruits and vegetables on hand to add to our meals. Particularly, the smoothies we drink everyday. Am I compromising the nutrient levels that I am feeding my family by using frozen produce as opposed to fresh produce? When comparing a fresh, leafy bunch of kale to a frozen bag of mixed veggies, the fresh variety may seem like the natural winner for superior nutrition. However, research has shown that the two are not all that different, nutritionally.
The fresh fruits and vegetables in your supermarket produce aisle are typically picked before they are able to reach their peak ripeness. This gives the distributors a window of time to ship it across the country or even overseas, and to get it on your shelves before they fully ripen. While this helps to ensure the availability of appealing looking produce, it also gives those fruits and vegetables less time to develop a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
Produce chosen for freezing tend to be picked at their peak ripeness, a time when (as a general rule) they are the most nutrient packed. After harvest, they are processed immediately, minimizing initial nutrient loss. The freezing process entails blanching the produce in hot water or steam to kill any bacteria and to halt the development of food-degrading enzymes. Some water soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin B, are sensitive to this and may be partially degraded or lost. However, frozen fruit and vegetables generally maintain most of their nutritive value when processed.
So from a nutritionist’s point of view, what is my final verdict?
Frozen produce is a convenient and inexpensive way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. In short, fruits and vegetables in any form are better than none at all. Whether it’s a trip down the frozen food aisle or a spin through the produce department, keeping your pantry stocked is important in maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.