Should We Eat Fresh Or Frozen Fruit And Vegetables?

There used to be a stigma associated with frozen fruit and vegetables, almost as if they were inferior somehow. Can a vegetable be inferior? Who knows.

To this day I will still eat my vegetables first, in order of worst to least-worst tasting, before moving onto the more appealing elements of the given meal. What’s important here is that although I might not like eating vegetables – I still shovel them down like everything else. We all know that vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet but have you ever stopped to think about the difference between fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables?

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Should We Eat Fresh Or Frozen Fruit And Vegetables?

Conventional wisdom used to be that fresh fruit and vegetables simply had more nutritional value. In light of two independent studies conducted back in late 2013, we now know differently! When compared to their fresh alternatives, ‘frozen fruit and vegetables tend to be richer in compounds like vitamin C, polyphenols, anthocyanins, lutein and beta-carotene’[1].

So, Are Frozen Fruit And Vegetables Better?

Let’s have a look at the difference between fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. To cut a long story short, the so-called ‘fresh’ products will lose a lot of their nutritional value as they make their way through the supply chain.

They might sit in a warehouse for weeks before being transported to stores and then end up standing idle on shelves for days until they are finally picked up and taken home only to wait around in the fridge for a few more days before finally being eaten!

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In stark contrast, frozen fruits and vegetables are typically processed a few hours after being picked which helps to lock in all their nutrients. The study did note that this doesn’t apply to all fruits and vegetables, concluding that frozen produce was on-par with their fresh counterparts.

Wait, didn’t you just say frozen vegetables were better? Yes, I did I think. That is, unless you’re getting them ‘farm to table’ or pulling them out of your own allotment. As a general guideline, frozen will usually be more nutritious than the ‘fresh’ produce you buy from the supermarket.

Does The Seasonality Of Fruits And Vegetables Matter?

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Yes, seasonality does matter! Although I can’t find the original source, ‘Researchers from the Austrian Consumers Association confirm that vegetables picked and frozen when in season are actually higher in nutrients than those flown in out of season from abroad’[2].

It would be hypocritical of me to say that you should only eat seasonally when in reality I don’t have the faintest idea of when fruits and vegetables are in season. If you’re anything like me, take heart from the fact that we are not alone.

A 2014 poll conducted by BBC Good Food Magazine found that ‘only 5% [of people] could say when blackberries were plump and juicy and 4% guessed accurately at when plumbs are at their best’[3].

There is no denying that we’ve grown complacent, spoilt by the supermarkets and their wares. Now that I know, I’ll make more of an effort to buy seasonally and fill in the gaps with frozen fruit and vegetables. Who am I kidding, yesterday I ate pizza for breakfast!

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