The Case for Frozen
It’s a common belief that fresh produce is more nutritious than frozen, however this not necessarily true. It is easy to assume that fresh produce is always the best choice, but in some cases, frozen fruits and vegetables may give you more health benefits and more bang for your buck. You probably already know that fresh fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of nutrient compounds including vitamins, minerals, and fibers. What you might not know is that you can get the same benefits from eating frozen produce as you can from fresh.
Fresh vs. Frozen: Nutritional Comparison
Studies have determined that the fresh produce we see at grocery stores is frequently picked before peak ripeness so it can go through the process of being packaged, stored, transported, and then stored again without spoiling. This is important to know because of the fact that peak ripeness is when fruits and vegetables tend to be the most nutrient packed.
In contrast, produce meant to be frozen is mostly picked at peak ripeness and frozen immediately. The process of freezing does not alter the nutritive value of the product being frozen. In fact, it locks these nutrients in. It is only during the preparation steps prior to freezing, mainly blanching, that minor losses of certain water-soluble vitamins occur. So, keep this in mind when purchasing any “blanched” frozen produce.
As a final comparison, some frozen fruits are even enhanced with vitamin C during the packaging process to prevent browning.
Benefits of Frozen Produce
First, frozen produce is a great and healthy alternative to fresh produce. Contrary to popular belief, frozen produce rivals, if not surpasses, the nutritional value of their fresh counterparts due to the fact it is picked at peak ripeness and then frozen to “lock in” those nutrients.
There is also a notable price difference between fresh and frozen produce when compared ounce to ounce. For those shopping on a budget, frozen produce may be more cost-effective.
Fresh produce has a much shorter shelf life than their frozen alternatives. If you are going to use the produce promptly, fresh is a good choice. However, to reduce the risk of spoilage and waste, frozen is a safer bet.
The availability of fresh produce is also limited by region and seasonality, meaning fresh-picked produce is not always an option. The freezing process allows produce to retain its freshness qualities for long periods, extending its availability well beyond the normal season of most crops.
Using Frozen Produce in Smoothies
One of the first uses that comes to mind for frozen produce is smoothies. The USDA recommends a total of 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day, and smoothies are an excellent and easy way to incorporate frozen produce into your diet to meet these recommendations. When using frozen fruit, there is no need for ice: simply add a handful of frozen fruits and vegetables (for extra fiber and antioxidants), to a liquid base such as almond milk, and any other great add-ins to make your smoothie packed with nutrition.
Click here to see a list of Zenblen smoothies to try at home
Click here to see some smoothie recipes from nutrition and health experts!
Overall, if fresh produce is unavailable, inconvenient, out of season, or beyond your budget, frozen produce is a great alternative that provide plenty of nutrients.
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