When it comes to fresh or frozen food, which has the best nutritional value?
In an ideal world we would pick organically grown vegies from our garden, but often the reality of modern life is far removed from this ideal.
If you often find yourself with limp broccoli wilting in the back of the fridge, you may be tempted to go the frozen veg option. And with good reason.
Frozen: the pros and cons
Research from UK’s University of Chester has shown that, in some cases, frozen vegetables may be more nutritious than fresh ones that are shipped over long distances.
The advantage of frozen vegetables is they are usually picked when they’re ripe and snap frozen to preserve the nutrients.
It’s important to note that some nutrients do break down if frozen produce is stored for long periods at a time, so its best to eat within a few months.
Some nutrients can also be lost during the blanching process before freezing.
Blanching kills harmful bacteria but also loses water-soluble nutrients, like vitamin B and vitamin C. This doesn’t apply to frozen fruits which aren’t blanched.
Fresh: the pros and cons
Many fresh vegetables are picked before they are ripe, meaning they haven’t developed all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
The time it takes to transport and process the vegetables means they can lose out on developing all their nutrients.
When choosing fresh vegetables, freshly harvested is best as means the produce is picked as late as possible for it to remain fresh.
How to get the best nutritional value
Most studies find that the difference between fresh or frozen in terms of nutritional value is very minimal.
Whether vegies are fresh or frozen, it is how they’re cooked that truly affects their nutrients.
Boiling leaches the most vitamins, while steaming is much healthier. The key to retaining maximum nutrients is to use as little water as possible and cook them for a short time.
Want more tips? Find out the best way to freeze food.