Fresh Vs Frozen Produce - Which Is Healthier?

JOURNAL – HEALTH

If you’ve ever wondered if fresh produce is healthier than frozen, the results are in.

You can save money on produce – including organic produce – by buying it frozen. Frozen vegetables and fruit are typically just as nutritious as fresh–yet more convenient and less expensive.

Frozen produce is picked at the peak of ripeness- when it’s most nutritious – then flash-frozen which locks in the vast majority of the nutrients.

For many of us, most produce at our grocery store is shipped in from all over the world. It’s often picked before its ripe (not yet at peak nutrition) and spends weeks or months in transit, further decreasing the nutrients along the way.

The Science

Researchers at the University of California found that the vitamin C content of corn, green beans, and blueberries was higher in frozen samples compared to refrigerated samples, while the content in strawberries, carrots, spinach, peas, and broccoli was the same. However, beta-carotene (Vitamin A) was less in the frozen samples. (1) So, it’s a good idea to include a mix of fresh and frozen in your diet.

Multiple studies that have compared fresh to frozen blueberries found that the frozen blueberries retain their antioxidant and anythocyanin content, without any significant loss.(2) In another win for frozen blueberries, one study found that fresh blueberries which had been refrigerated for 10 days, (as would normally happen between harvest, the grocery store, and your home) had less phenolic compounds (phytochemicals, like anthocyanins, which provide health-protective effects) compared to the same batch of blueberries that were frozen for 90 days. (3)

I love and use a TON of fresh produce (ideally from a local farmers market), but, I always keep frozen fruits and veggies on hand for quick, convenient meals, too.

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My favorite frozen produce and how I use it:

Sautéed with garlic and olive oil:

  • broccoli rice
  • cauliflower rice
  • cut okra

Steamed with gluten-free pasta:

  • green peas
  • California blend (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower)
  • butternut squash

Smoothies:

  • blueberries
  • pitaya / dragon fruit
  • cranberries

Dessert:

  • mango (pop in blender with nothing else for amazing sorbet)

For more tips like these, check out my book, The Real Food Grocery Guide.

What frozen veggies do you use and how? Share in the comments below.

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MEET MARIA
Hi, I’m Maria and I’m an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach.

I help busy women lose weight or clear up their acne by developing healthier eating habits, based on a plant-based paleo diet.

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