Are frozen fruits and vegetables healthy? Do frozen fruits and vegetables lose nutrients? A study conducted on the consumption of fruits and vegetables showed that from 2015 to 2020, Americans who did not consume these foods were unable to fulfill their average requirements of fruits and vegetables. This shows how vital frozen fruits and vegetables have become.
Fresh fruits and vegetables have the same amount of nutrients as frozen ones. They are a great option because you can keep them in the freezer for a long time, maintaining all their nutrients. They provide the convenience you can choose the fruit or vegetable you like already peeled, cut, and ready to eat. (1*, 2*, 3*)
Increasing use of these frozen foods raises some questions, the chief among them being: are frozen fruits and vegetables healthy at all? And if they are, how do they compensate for the use of fresh fruits and vegetables?
To answer queries regarding the effectiveness of them, you should be aware of the nature of frozen and fresh organic foods.
How healthy are fresh Fruit and Vegetables
In the United States, these foods may take as long as a year to reach the market. That means from the time they are picked to when they come to your kitchen, fresh fruits and vegetables pass through quite the test of time.
You must be wondering how, then, fresh fruits and vegetables appear “fresh” and nutritious when they reach your kitchen?
Two crucial steps are involved to ensure this freshness. First, fruits and vegetables are picked before they are fully ripe. This allows them to be mature on their way to the market, and they do not rot.
Second, during their transport, fresh fruits and vegetables are kept in a cold and controlled environment. This ensures the preservation of nutrients and natural antioxidants within them.
This practical and straightforward two-step technique keeps the fruits and vegetables fresh during their transport and distribution.
Unlike fresh veggies, frozen ones are processed a bit differently. First of all, fruits and vegetables meant to be frozen are picked when they are fully ripe and are at their best nutritional state.
Secondly, after being picked, they are thoroughly washed and cleansed.
Thirdly, after cleaning, fruits and vegetables are cut and immediately frozen and packed (usually within 4 hours). No additives are added to them until they are frozen.
Frozen Foods May Lack Some Vitamins
You must have heard about the loss of nutrients in frozen fruits and vegetables. While it is a fact that a few vitamins may be lost during the processing of these foods, the lost quantity is negligible. Also, the risk of fruits and vegetables losing nutrients remains high during the initial stages, such as cleaning and cutting.
Once they are frozen, they retain all the remaining vitamins and nutrients.
During cleaning, fruits and vegetables are boiled to kill harmful germs. However, during the process of vitamin B, some water-soluble vitamins and antioxidants may be lost.
The second stage where nutrients are lost is cutting or chopping.
After storage them, they retain most of the beneficial ingredients, but not all, and remain nutritious and healthy.
Nutrients decrease when stored
Some vitamins remain intact in frozen fruits and vegetables while others such as vitamin C keep decreasing even during this stage. Moreover, the decrease is more prominent in some fruits than it is in others. For example, research shows that vitamin C in green peas decreases by 51% in the first 48 hours after picking.
Interestingly, antioxidants may increase in frozen fruits. This is due to the storage of them at shallow temperatures.
Although nutrients keep on decreasing from the stage where they are picked, the amount of nutrients that frozen fruits retain exceeds the lost ones. That means even when they lose some vitamins, frozen ones are still consumable and healthy.
Fresh vs. Frozen: Which Is More Nutritious?
Are frozen fruits and vegetables healthy? The evidence from various studies suggests that the frozen products, whether retain their nutritional value for the most part.
Additionally, if some studies highlight the changes in the nutritional value of fresh and frozen ones, these differences are usually minor.
It is also suggested that vitamin A, E, antioxidants, and Carotenoids are almost in equal quantities in both fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables.
Various studies slightly differ in their results because they use samples from different sites: some use products from supermarkets while others take the same from within the storage sites.
Benefits of Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
More Vitamin C and Fibers
For instance, frozen peas and spinach, when brought from the market, may have more Vitamin C in them.
Similarly, fiber content may also increase in some green vegetables when they are frozen.
In a nutshell, freezing some fruits and vegetables makes them rich in Vitamin C and fibers.
Additional Benefits of Frozen Vegetables and Fruits
- Freezing enables you to choose from a selection of vegetables worldwide with the same flavor experience in or out of season.
- Frozen vegetables require no preparation, and you can use as much or as little as you want to eliminate waste.
- Fast, convenient, and available throughout the year. We can prepare frozen vegetables can be in minutes by steaming, frying, or micro-shaking.
- Organic frozen fruits and vegetables are a great way to get your ‘A Day.’
But there are more benefits like:
They are Fully Ripe
Frozen fruits and vegetables are harvested after they are fully ripe. Shortly after that, they are frozen, and nutrients and antioxidants stay in their original condition.
On the other hand, fresh ones are picked, they start losing nutrients. They are not allowed to ripe completely. Instead, they are harvested well before they are ripe.
They are ready and nutrient-rich when you buy them from the market. On the other hand, fresh fruits and vegetables may not be fully prepared when they reach the market. They may not be at their nutritional peak when they get to the supermarkets.
They are Additive-free
Most frozen natural foods do not contain any additives, partly because they are not left waiting for additives to be added to them and frozen immediately.
So if you are not a fan of additives in your fruits and vegetables, it might be ideal for you to try them in frozen form.
They are Versatile
One of the essential advantages of these frozen foods is that we can use them in various ways.
- You can add them to smoothies.
- They can be melted or heated for porridge or spread.
- Frozen vegetables can be used with olive oil and as chef ingredients in various fried foods.
- They do not require washing, cutting, or peeling.
If you want a ready-made alternative for fresh ones, their frozen counterparts are the best choice for you, even if you prefer the former ones.
They save a lot of your time that would otherwise be spent on preparing fruits and cooking fresh vegetables.
While fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables are almost equally rich in nutrients and antioxidants, there are a few benefits if you use frozen forms of these products. For example, they may be rich in Vitamin C; save a lot of your time; are usually additive-free.
Written by Muddassir Abdur Rub M. D.