“Are frozen vegetables healthy?” is a common question that may come up as families plan meals and make decisions about shopping for fresh vs. frozen vegetables. Even before the start of Tommy’s Superfoods, Tommy Williams, Tommy’s Superfoods founder, grew up in the kitchen and frequented farmers market in his hometown of Austin, Texas. From this early introduction to home-cooked meals and farm-to-table cooking, Tommy’s grew out of a strong commitment to healthy eating. We’ve done the research so you don’t have to: frozen vegetables are just as healthy and sometimes MORE healthy than fresh.
Want to know more? Read on as we discuss the research on fresh vs. frozen vegetables and some of the reasons why frozen vegetables can actually be more healthy than fresh.
Fresh vs. Frozen Vegetables: The Facts
In recent years, there have been a number of peer-reviewed (I.e. reliable) studies which set out to answer the question, “Are frozen vegetables healthy and how do they compare to fresh vegetables?”
Vitamins in Frozen Vegetables
In January of 2015, a study was published in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, which looked at four vitamins, ascorbic acid, riboflavin, vitamin E, and beta carotene, in several different fruits and vegetables, both fresh and frozen. What do these four vitamins do?
- Ascorbic acid is one form of vitamin C and has antioxidant qualities. Antioxidants are believed to help protect against the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer. In addition, vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods, helps our immune system work properly to protect the body from disease, and helps wounds to heal.
- Riboflavin (also called vitamin B2) is important for the growth, development, and function of the cells in your body. It also helps turn the food you eat into the energy you need.
- Vitamin E is a group of vitamins that have antioxidant qualities and help to support strong immune function.
- Beta carotene, or Vitamin A, is important for normal vision, the immune system, and reproduction. Vitamin A also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly.
Researchers analyzed the nutrient content of corn, carrots, broccoli, spinach, peas, green beans, strawberries, and blueberries, both when they were harvested and after they had been stored, either frozen our fresh. The study found that overall, the vitamin content of frozen vegetables and fruits was comparable to and occasionally higher than that of their fresh counterparts.
Minerals and Fiber in Frozen Vegetables
Also published in January 2015 was a study with a mouthful of a name: Mineral, Fiber, and Total Phenolic Retention in Eight Fruits and Vegetables: A Comparison of Refrigerated and Frozen Storage. This study analyzed magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and copper levels in the same vegetables and fruits: corn, carrots, broccoli, spinach, peas, green beans, strawberries, and blueberries. Each vegetable or fruit was harvested fresh and split into two batches. One batch was kept fresh, and the other half was frozen. Reserachers then analyzed the nutrient content over three storage times. The results showed that the majority of the fruits and vegetables showed no significant difference between fresh and frozen in levels of minerals and fiber.
Other Studies Available
These studies are not new or revolutionary. Previous studies have also found that freezing does not impact the nutritional quality of vegetables. As we continually work to improve our products, we keep an eye on food and science journals in order to make sure that we are up-to-date on the latest research and practices for ensuring that our frozen vegetables are healthy and as tasty as possible. If you are interested in learning more about recent healthy eating research, make sure to sign up for our email newsletter and we’ll share our finds with you.
Why Frozen Vegetables Can Be Healthier Than Fresh
Looking at the fresh vs. frozen research may make you wonder, why are frozen vegetables sometimes healthier than fresh? Why do frozen vegetables sometimes have more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than their fresh counterparts?
The answer is in the story of how (and when) that vegetable got from the farm where it was grown to your table.
Frozen Vegetables Are Harvested at the Peak of Perfection
Tommy’s Superfoods’ frozen vegetables are allowed to ripen to perfection on the vine, then picked at the peak of deliciousness. After a short drive from the farm, they are carefully washed and flash frozen while still at this ideal stage of flavor and nutrition. Everything wonderful is locked in immediately (with a few of our own zesty spice additions), before being transported to a grocery store near you. No matter if you cook our vegetables the day you bring them home from the store (we know, they’re so delicious it’s hard to resist!) or if you cook them days later, it’s as if they are just as fresh as when they left the farm.
Fresh Vegetables Are A Race Against Time
Don’t get us wrong – we love fresh, in-season produce just as much as you do, but the reality of our global food process is that vegetables destined to be shipped across the country are often picked before they are ripe. Even if they appear to ripen in transit or on your kitchen counter, these vegetables will not be as healthy or have as much flavor as if they’re allowed to ripen on the vine. Additionally, because the nutrients are not locked in prior to transport with a flash freezing process, some nutrients may degrade before they even make it onto your plate. Fresh vegetables’ nutrient content begins declining after they are harvested. This decline continues while the vegetables are being prepared for shipping, held in warehouse storage, being shipped to your local grocery store, and even while waiting to be cooked in your refrigerator or on your cabinet.
It’s easy to understand why some people may wonder about the nutritional quality of frozen vegetables if they haven’t read the research or tried our vitamin-packed Super Greens or lightly seasoned vegetable medley, but we’re proud to say the research speaks for itself: frozen veggies are a healthy, delicious option for any meal.
We hope this post has helped to answer any questions you may have about the health of frozen vegetables. Do you have other questions you would like answered? Leave us a comment and let us know, and we will work to answer it in an upcoming Super Tips post.