Updated: Jan 21, 2020
Should we consume frozen, cooked, or raw vegetables/fruits? Is one preparation better than the other? Let's find out!
Over the years, there has been a lot of controversy around the nutritional value of frozen vegetables/fruits. Consuming fresh fruits have been specifically highlighted as more beneficial. This is due to the extra ingredients (sugars + salts) usually found in frozen packaged fruit/vegetables. Without additional manipulation, the nutritional value for each condition is 50/50 in comparison. The truth is, one is not 100% better than the other. The nutritional value of eating fresh or frozen merely depends on the preparation, processing, transportation, and storing conditions of the produce.
"Most nutrients start to degrade immediately after harvest, reducing the health benefits." Guy Crosby (Food Scientist)
One thing to note is "Fresh isn't always better". Produce is usually transported long distances in covered areas and poor temperatures. This damages essential vitamins found in cruciferous vegetables, greens, and citrus fruits. Frozen can be highly manipulated before packaging, lessening the health benefits of consumption. So now we begged the other question, is cooking the vegetables/fruit better than consuming it raw? The impact of heat on vegetables can vary, there are times it can increase nutritional value and other times, decrease it. Water-soluble vegetables and fruits high in vitamin c are sensitive to high temperatures, light, and oxygen, causing the nutritional value to be easily degraded. However, keeping liquids from boiled water-soluble fruits and vegetables for other recipes allows you to still reap the benefits. Fat-soluble vegetables cooked in oil can break down the vitamins and minerals, lessening the nutritional value. Contrarily, minerals like iron + fiber maintain their nutritional value cooked or raw. For these reasons, research has proposed eating both cooked and raw vegetables/fruits are equally beneficial. Variety is key. Learning the proper preparation and benefits of the produce you consume can maximize the amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you ingest.
8 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT FRUITS/VEGETABLES
1. Storing fruits/vegetables at room temperature decreases nutritional content by up to 20% (Julia Denner)
2. Frozen: Always read the ingredients before buying frozen fruit. Some packaged fruits/vegetables may have additional preservatives, salts, and sugars added.
3. Frozen: Calculated and consistent temperature conditions can affect the nutritional content of frozen vegetables. Frozen fruit should be consumed right away or placed in the freezer immediately upon purchasing.
4. Fermentation of vegetables can increase the nutritional value compared to consuming it "fresh". The process also creates good bacteria for better gut and digestive health.
5. Fresh: Purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at your local farmers market can reduce the damages of transportation and processing done to store-bought produce. Also, you are helping businesses the economy of your community. :-)
6. Frozen vegetables and fruits are picked at peak ripeness and immediately frozen. This method actually helps to retain more nutrients for a longer period of time. However, changing temperatures can reduce nutritional content.
7. Fresh: Fresh fruit and vegetables are better consumed within two days of purchase.
In order to keep its freshness, squeezing fresh lemons over the fruit and storing it at the optimal temperature can help retain its vitamins and minerals. Steaming is also more nutritionally beneficial than boiling.
8. Fresh & Frozen: Phenolic compounds and minerals like calcium, iron, fiber, and magnesium maintain their potency in both preparations.