It's almost winter, and you know what that means: delicous summer fruits and vegetables are no longer available fresh. So what about frozen? It's a question I get asked repeatedly. Which is more healthy? Are frozen fruits and veggies just as healthy and good for you as fresh?
It's not a simple question to answer since so many variables affect the nutritional values in a vegetable or fruit. For example, how mature was the plant when harvested? What type of environmental stress was it grown under? How rich was the soil? What chemicals was it exposed to? How much water did it receive? How much sun?
All of these are factors that influence the nutritional value of a plant. Another set of factors that you must consider are how long it took to harvest and finally reach your plate; was it refrigerated or not? The longer a fresh vegetable or fruit goes before consumption, the more nutrients are lost. In fact, the USDA says that vegetables and fruits can lose up to half of their nutritional value in only two days of room temperature storage. These facts are very important, however, in most cases, they're impossible for you to know.
So how do you decide between fresh and frozen? With these facts to consider, lets take a logical look at this question. If we know that the longer a vegetable or fruit sits, the more nutritional value is lost, we should focus on local, fresh veggies and fruits. Local usually means they have been in storage the shortest amount of time from harvest. Look for grocers that advertise produce from local growers. Organic veggies and fruits may have a slightly higher nutritional content. The studies are not conclusive, but do indicate that trend. With organic produce, one thing is sure: your exposure to harmful chemicals is greatly reduced.
If the produce you're seeking is out of season or not from local growers, buy frozen. Many stores now identify produce that is from local farms. Frozen veggies and fruits are cleaned, prepared and quickly frozen after harvest, locking in the nutritional values that nature provided. However, be sure to avoid those that come in a sauce or syrup. Read the ingredient label and make sure it contains just the vegetables or fruit.
Both are great choices! Choose fresh if it’s locally grown and frozen if local is not available.