10th March 2014
Fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables – which are the most healthy?
Canned, bottled, fresh or frozen veggies and fruit – which are best? Well you would think that the obvious answer is fresh … but just wait a minute!
Depending upon how long it takes to get the vegetables and fruit from the field or farm to your dinner table, the answer might vary significantly.
Fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables
It’s a no-brainer to guess that organic, pesticide-free and just-picked vegetables and fruit are the best – they are just as nature intended them and at their maximum peak and full of great nutrition. However, depending upon where you live and weather conditions locally, your ‘fresh’ produce at supermarket, farm shop or greengrocer may well be several days old.
This is because it may well spend many days in transit after being harvested or may be stored before it can be delivered to the outlet. During this time its valuable nutrients may well be depleted, especially vitamins like Vitamin C and folate. And when you factor in some light and temperature fluctuations, those losses can certainly add up.
Frozen vegetables and fruit on the other hand are flash-frozen within hours of being picked (and picked at their peak), locking in the majority of the nutrients. Of course the down side is that freezing, as a process, does alter the flavour and texture of fresh vegetables and fruits.
They are still often a better option in the winter months though than ‘fresh’ ones that have travelled across the country then sat in the grocery aisle for days before being tossed into your refrigerator for a few more.
The answer may well be to mix and match fresh with frozen from those available and the ones you know you like the texture and taste of after freezing.
Canned and bottled veggies and fruit are however the least nutritious of the bunch. Even though they are canned soon after harvesting, many lose up to 90% of their nutritional power in the canning and bottling process. They will also often have higher salt or sodium levels (and sometimes sugar) because it is frequently added to them during the preservation process. There is however no doubting their convenience, and faced with the choice of vegetables and fruit or none, then they have a place in the diet.
So the bottom line is to mix it up! Take advantage of seasonal, cheap and fresh produce whenever you can and stock up on their frozen counterparts for times when you can rely upon their value, time-saving qualities and availability (I’m thinking of items like berries and peas in the winter months). Judiciously have a few canned and bottled veggies and fruits in your larder too for when shopping is a chore, you’re housebound or the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Better still, arm yourself after experimenting, with an essential list of frozen, canned and bottled alternatives to fresh that come in as good second-best options for recipes and bariatric-friendly dishes.