Two recent research studies conducted in England have provided some valuable support for highlighting the nutritional value of frozen vegetables and fruits. We took a look and what they found might surprise you, but it sure didn’t surprise us!
Research on the Nutritional Value of Frozen Vegetables
Teams of researchers from Leatherhead Food Research and the University of Chester conducted forty tests to determine the nutrient levels in various kinds of produce that had been stored in a refrigerator for three days compared to its frozen equivalent.
Their findings highlighted that while eating freshly picked produce has the highest nutrient levels (such as fruits and vegetables from your family’s garden or a local farmer’s market), the nutritional value of frozen vegetables are nearly as high and often exceed the levels found in produce items that are sold as ‘fresh’ in most grocery stores and supermarkets.
We must disregard the mistaken opinion that ‘fresh’ food is always better for us than frozen food.
Dr. Rachel Burch
Leatherhead Food Research
Dr. Rachel Burch’s team of researchers found that frozen broccoli contained higher levels of Vitamin C, lutein, and beta-carotene than the fresh alternative available in stores. When analyzing frozen carrots, it was determined that they had more lutein, beta-carotene, Vitamin C, and polyphenols than the fresh versions found in the produce section. The same held true for frozen versus fresh brussels sprouts – frozen consistently beat fresh in all nutrient measurements.
The University of Chester research study found that when analyzing frozen green beans and blueberries, the levels of Vitamin C and polyphenols were much higher. The same held true when analyzing the nutritional value of frozen vegetables and fruits, such as: raspberries, sweet corn, cauliflower and peas.
Unlike frozen, some fresh produce concentrations of antioxidant compounds exhibited a decrease during refrigerated storage to levels below those observed in the corresponding frozen produce.
Professor Graham Bonwick
University of Chester
The two studies were funded by the British Frozen Food Association, but were conducted independently by the research teams from the University and Leatherhead.
The studies helped to confirm the fact that the modern-day process of “flash freezing” helps to reduce substantial losses to the nutritional value of frozen vegetables and fruits. In comparison, what is often considered ‘fresh’ produce in a grocery aisle can spend up to a full calendar month moving through the supply chain of farm to producer to distributor to store – before consumers even have a chance to purchase them.
For commercially produced fruits and vegetables that spend upwards of a month traveling from farm to table, it has become clear that deterioration of the nutritional value occurs, which strengthens the argument for incorporating frozen vegetables and fruits into the diet.
Make the Healthiest Choice Possible
When faced with the choice between produce that was harvested more than two or three weeks prior and a frozen alternative, the nutritional value of frozen vegetables and fruits will contain higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants. The true health benefits that come from eating fruits and vegetables are in the vitamins and antioxidant compounds they contain. These rich sources of nutrition help our bodies to prevent cancer, maintain a healthy weight, and support the working of all the body’s systems and organs. When you are making the commitment to eating a healthier diet and incorporating more plant-based meals into your week, it makes sense to use the freshest, most nutrient dense vegetables and fruits.
So, the next time you are in the supermarket feeling uninspired by wilted spinach, rubbery broccoli, or tired green beans, head over to the frozen food aisle and grab a few bags of your favorite frozen vegetables! Not only will they require less prep time to cook them, but you’ll also get the full nutritional benefits you want and your body needs. Select non-GMO frozen vegetables with low sodium and healthy all natural seasonings to make sure you are making the healthiest choice possible.