Fruits and Vegetables: Fresh or Frozen?
It's not a secret that all sorts of fruits and vegetables have nutritional value and help improve the health condition of a person. That is why it is so important to consume these products every day. While some vegetables and fruits are available on sale throughout a year, there are those, which can be purchased during a particular season only. Such fruits and vegetables are known as "seasonal". Those people, who wish to enjoy the health benefits of seasonal fruits and vegetables all the year round, have found a perfect alternative! By freezing the products, they get a chance to consume them any time they wish, irrespective of the season. The question is as follows: are frozen fruits and vegetables as healthy as fresh ones? This is what we are going to discuss below.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables vs Frozen Ones: Harvesting and Transportation Aspects
When people harvest fresh fruits and vegetables, they pick them when they are still a bit unripe. This is a common practice, which makes it possible to transport the products, preserving their condition. As a rule, it takes around 3-14 days to transport and deliver these products to the markets and supermarkets. During this time, unripe vegetables, berries and fruits have enough time to ripen and provide people with a full range of microelements, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins. Fresh vegetables and fruits have to be transported under particular conditions depending upon the type and sort of a product. In most cases, they have to be stored in cool places, but they are often treated with chemical substances that prevent them from preliminary spoiling. It goes without saying that the usage of these chemicals may have a negative effect on the health condition of consumers. This is especially true when it comes to kids. On the other hand, everyone should understand that it is frequently impossible to transport fresh fruits and vegetables unspoiled during such a long period of time.
Speaking about frozen vegetables and fruits, they should be picked when they are completely ripe. This is the time when they are the most nutritious as well. After the harvesting, they are washed, cut and then frozen in special containers or packages. Some vegetables may also be blanched before freezing, while fruits can be frozen with the addition of sugar or ascorbic acid that helps prevent their spoiling. This should be done during several hours after the harvesting to preserve maximum health benefits of fruits and vegetables. No chemical substances are generally used when freezing fresh fruit and vegetables and this is one of the benefits people should know about. However, experts point out that frozen products may contain a lower amount of vitamins, because some nutrients may break down when stored frozen for a long period of time. The same problem may arise when the products are blanched before freezing. Depending upon the type of a product and the duration of blanching, the loss of nutrients may constitute up to 80%. This is not observed when the products are frozen fresh.
What about Storage?
One of the recent studies has revealed that long storage of fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits may also result in the loss of nutrients. Right after the harvesting, the products start losing their natural moisture and may quickly get spoiled. This will eventually trigger the loss of nutritional value, which mostly concerns fruits and berries. Thus, the content of vitamin C in fresh fruits and vegetables starts declining immediately after the harvesting. The activity of antioxidants decreases as well. Some products may lose up to 50 % of their nutritional value for 4 days after they are picked. The conclusion is as follows: if there is a chance to eat fresh vegetables and fruits right after harvesting, don't overlook it! This is the best way to make sure you consume products rich in vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.
Fresh or Frozen: Which Option Is Better?
Which fruits and vegetables are healthier: fresh or frozen? This question worries lots of consumers across the globe, but there is no definite answer to it yet. The fact is that there is no sense to rely on the research data only, because they may vary with regard to the sort of the products and the time when the study was carried out. Some laboratories study fresh products right after the harvesting, while others conduct their research having bought them in supermarkets after a long transportation and storage period. What's more, such nuances as processing methods and transportation may affect the results as well.
The only thing the researchers agree upon is that most frozen fruits and vegetables preserve their nutritional value, while the content of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and microelements in fresh and frozen products remains almost the same. Some nutrients may be affected by blanching, but most minerals, carotenoids, fibre, vitamins A and E are not affected by this processing method. What's interesting, the content of certain nutrients is some frozen fruits and vegetables may get higher with the lapse of time. For instance, frozen spinach or pears may contain more vitamin C as compared to fresh ones, which are sold in supermarkets and stored for several days.
Fruits and vegetables, which are picked and eaten right after harvesting, are the most nutritious and offer more health benefits. There is no doubt about this fact. However, we should understand that not all people have an opportunity to consume such products and have to shop for them. This is not a problem as well, because there is a rich choice of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables on sale these days.
According to recent research, frozen fruits and vegetables contain almost the same amount of nutrients (if not even higher) than fresh ones. So, the best solution here is to combine fresh and frozen products in your everyday ration to avail maximum health benefits!