Although fresh produce generally costs more and lasts for a shorter amount of time than frozen produce, there's the widespread idea that fresh fruit and vegetables are healthier for you. However, before you spend more money than you have to, you may be surprised to learn that you may be making the wrong decision.
Why Frozen Produce Is (Usually Mistakenly) Passed Up
You might think of fresh produce as the most nutrient-rich kind of produce because you think of the food as unprocessed. While it's true that canned produce is processed, often heated to the point where much of its nutrients are lost, frozen produce is usually not pre-cooked and does not share the loss of nutrients that canned produce experiences. It's also true that canned produce typically has additives and preservatives to help increase the shelf life; however, most frozen produce can be found without any additives or preservatives whatsoever, simply because freezing is all that's necessary to extend the life of the fruits or veggies.
What Happens When Produce Is Frozen
So if frozen produce doesn't suffer from loss of nutrients and typically doesn't have any added preservatives, what exactly happens to the fruit and vegetables when they're frozen? Effectively, they remain frozen at the moment that they entered the freezing process. This means that they keep all of their nutrients intact and are not at risk for decay, mold or bacteria if kept frozen. Fresh produce, on the other hand, is at great risk for decay, mold and bacteria during the picking, shipping and sale process and may decay even after you've bought the produce before you're able to use them.
Frozen Produce Is More Nutritious (Usually)
Because fresh produce is at such risk for decay, mold and bacteria, the fact is that frozen produce is typically safer and more convenient for you to use. However, are fresh fruit and vegetables still worth purchasing because of a difference in nutrition? No, actually. Frozen produce is flash-frozen at the optimal time for picking, when the produce is most ripe and rich in nutrients. Fresh fruit and vegetables must be picked before the produce has had time to reach optimal nutrition. This is done so that the produce can survive the long trip to the store. And from there, the produce begins to decay and lose much of the nutrients it did have. The only way that fresh fruits and vegetables can match the nutritional value of their frozen counterparts is if you eat them literally fresh from the garden or farm yourself.
A Caveat for Frozen Produce
Now that you know you can save money and get more nutritious fruits and vegetables if you buy frozen instead of fresh, just be sure that the frozen produce you reach for don't have any additives, such as salt or butter. You should only find the vegetables listed in the ingredients.