Fruits and vegetables are among the most nutritious foods you can add to your daily meals. However, sometimes, fresh crops are unavailable. Should you pick the ice-covered varieties instead? For some people, frozen fruits and vegetables are not as good as their recently harvested counterparts. But, that is not always the case. These cold and frosty products can also provide some benefits – and in some instances, more nutrients.
Freezing Fruits and Vegetables
Manufacturers freeze fruits and vegetables to extend its shelf life and preserve its healthful substances. To achieve this goal, these plant-based products undergo several processes.
Keep in mind that the fruits and vegetables are picked once they reach their peak ripeness. From there, the manufacturers will wash, blanch, freeze, and pack the vegetables. During the blanching process, the crops are placed in boiling water for a few minutes. This technique kills the microorganisms and preserves the vegetable’s color, texture, and flavor.
As for fruits, these sweet and juicy products don’t undergo the blanching process. Typically, the manufacturers preserve these crops by adding ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or sugar.
The Benefits of Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
1. Preserved Nutrients
It is true that the blanching process can destroy some of the vegetable’s nutrients, especially the water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin B and C. However, studies have revealed that the boiling water is unable to destroy all the healthful substances in the produce. In fact, when compared, the fresh and frozen vegetables have the same amount of fiber, minerals, carotenoids, and vitamin E.
Moreover, one study also revealed that frozen fruits have more vitamin C and antioxidants compared to their fresh counterparts.
The best part is that the vegetables and fruits stop losing their healthful substances after freezing. Thus, you can open a pack of frozen berries next month and get the same amount of nutrients when it was processed.
2. Cheaper than Fresh Products
Compared to fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen products are cheaper. This is especially true when the veggies or fruits are not in season.
3. Easy to Prepare
Basically, consuming frozen fruits and vegetables is more convenient. Remember, the manufacturers have already washed and cut these products. So, you can simply open the package and heat them in your pan or add them to your favorite smoothie.
4. Has a Long Shelf-Life
Another benefit of picking frozen produce is their long shelf-life. As mentioned, nutrient loss stops once the crops are covered with ice. In general, you can store frozen products for about a year or longer. An added advantage is that these products do not contain salt or other chemicals, which is common in canned vegetables and fruits.
Fresh or Frozen – Which is Better?
There are numerous reasons to pick fresh fruits and vegetables over their frozen or canned varieties. Basically, these products taste better and look more appetizing. Aside from that, recently harvested crops also contain digestive enzymes that can help your body break down food and absorb nutrients.
However, nutritionally speaking, frozen fruits and vegetables may have some advantage. Remember, fresh crops are highly nutritious if you eat them during the peak of their ripeness. However, as time goes by, these products slowly lose their nutrients. In fact, one study revealed that some frozen foods like berries and sweet corn have more vitamin C compared to their fresh counterpart after three days of storage.
Overall, eating plant-based products is an effective way to get your daily nutrients. But, you don’t have to opt for fresh crops all the time. If the fruits and veggies are not in season, you can always choose their cold and frosty counterparts. Remember, frozen crops can also provide healthful substances and other benefits. Thus, consuming both frozen and fresh varieties is definitely a good option to diversify your meals and get a variety of nutrients all year round.
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