Whilst we’ve always been told fresh is best when it comes to our fruit and vegetables, research is beginning to prove this many not be the case.
Research carried out by The University of Chester and Leatherhead Food Research has found that many frozen fruits and vegetables are on par - if not in a better nutritional state - than their fresh counterparts, especially after the latter have spent a couple of days in the fridge.
In the pecking order of food quality hand-picked fresh fruit and vegetables from your garden, if you’re lucky enough to produce your own, comes top but when visiting your local store a combination of fresh and frozen is best.
Some fruits and vegetables are processed before freezing so it is worth checking the packaging of your frozen choices before making a purchase. Certain vitamins such as Vitamins B and C do breakdown when exposed to heat, which is a key part of the blanching process which some fruits and vegetables are put through when being processed for freezing. It is also important to remember that fruit which have their skin removed for the freezing process lose the nutrients in that skin.
From a pure taste perspective, there are some fruits and vegetables which lose their flavour as well as nutrients when frozen. However, here are a few which retain the best of their character, flavour and nutrients even when frozen:
Sweetcorn is one of the most effective frozen convenience foods. Where canned corn is really lacking in flavour, frozen corn tastes sweet. Corn is blanched before freezing but for this particular type of food the process can actually boost the lutein and zeaxanthin-carotenoids (essential for eye health) in the vegetables, helping further its nutritional benefits.
Frozen peas are probably the most common freezer vegetable and they’re one of the most nutritional too. The Journal of Food Science & Technology reported that freezing peas actually increases their antioxidant levels and just a small portion of peas can account for a sizeable portion of your Vitamin C requirements.
Known as one of those superfoods before its frozen, spinach is an exceptional source of iron and antioxidants and freezing the green stuff can help retain these beneficial nutrients. Research published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture by the University of California found that spinach stored at room temperature lost 100% of its ascorbic acid in under four days whilst flash-frozen spinach retains much more of its vitamin content.
A fantastic, convenience frozen food which allows you to add some citrus freshness to your fruit salads, smoothies and breakfasts in seconds. Rich in vitamin B6 and C it’s a great choice for a vitamin boost and grabbing your slices out of the freezer removes the messy peeling and pitting process.
Blueberries in your freezer provide more than just a handy snack, they ensure you have a great source of anthocyanins (known to prevent heart disease and cancer) to hand and with the speed of defrosting mere minutes you can enjoy your berries quickly and benefit from the longevity they gain from their spot in your freezer.
A combination of frozen and fresh fruit and vegetables is the best option for your health and it’s great to know that frozen alternatives aren’t necessarily a lesser choice, where you sacrifice flavour and nutrition for a longer shelf life.
by Kath Webb
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