There is a misconception that frozen fruit and vegetables are not as good for you as fresh. This is not true!
When the fruit and vegetable you like are in season, buy fresh and ripe. But when they’re not in season, or it’s simply not convenient to have fresh, then buy frozen!
The fruit and vegetables selected for freezing are done so at the peak of their ripeness and therefore all the goodness and nutrients are sealed in. Often fresh fruit and vegetables are picked before they’re ripe because they have to be shipped around the country or overseas.
On average, Americans only eat three of the recommended nine daily servings of fruit and vegetable, so just one-third! Therefore, it does seem sensible to consider frozen fruit and vegetables with their high concentration of nutrients when fresh isn’t available, or when it simply more convenient.
Some people are quick to point out that the first step of the freezing process, which is to blanche or steam in boiling water, means goodness is lost from the fruit and veg, specifically the break down of water soluble nutrients like vitamins B and C. However, the whole freezing process ensures they are frozen in a nutrient rich state. It’s also worth noting that because fresh fruit and veg are often picked before they’re ripe, they don’t have the full range of vitamins and minerals they would have if they were ripe. And often, after the long haul from picking to store, fresh fruit and veg will degrade, and important nutrient rich vitamins like B and C will be reduced.
Now, there are common sense steps to follow and things to look out for with regards to frozen fruit and vegetables.
In the USA choose packages marked with the USDA “US Fancy” Shield. These tend to be better than those marked “US 1” or “US 2”.
Over a period of several months, the nutrients in frozen fruit and veg will inevitably degrade, so you should still eat within a sensible time after purchase. So read the instructions on the label and ensure you use well within the time indicated on the packaging.
Unless you have no other means, don’t boil frozen fruit and veg! Use a microwave or steam them to ensure you keep to a minimum the lose of water soluble vitamins.
You’ll gather from all this that nothing is perfect and there are compromises. In an ideal world, you’d pick all your fruit and vegetable at the optimum time of being ripe, when all the nutrients are at their maximum. So we have to do the best with what is there: fruit and vegetables that are as fresh and ripe as we can get when available, and frozen fruit and vegetables that are cooked in the best way possible to maximise the high concentration of nutrients available.
If you want more information about the vitamins and mineral in food, like fruit and veg, then the high protein page is a good place to start and our Calories site also provides a wealth of information.