by Marguerite Ferrara, Byrnes HEC Assistant Director of Education Services/Corporate Wellness
Maybe you have noticed that the fresh produce section of the grocery store is offering slim pickings and the farmers markets have packed up for the winter. Not only is the quality of the fresh fruits and veggies in the grocery store kind of scary, but so is the cost. Don’t worry, there is no need to rely on vitamin supplements until next summer. Nutritionally speaking, frozen fruits and vegetables are equal or even better than fresh ones.
The fresh produce you get at the grocery store was probably picked a few days, sometimes weeks, before appearing on the shelves. After sitting in the refrigerator for a few days, many lose important nutrients. The nutritional value of vegetables remains intact when frozen. Produce that is going to be frozen is usually picked when it is at its’ peak of freshness and contain the most nutrients. They are usually blanched to kill bacteria and preserve color and flash-frozen immediately after being harvested. The blanching process causes some nutrients to break down and freezing can destroy certain antioxidants. Don’t boil fresh or frozen produce, instead, steam or microwave to maintain those valuable nutrients.
Fresh picked vegetables and fruit contain the highest quality of nutrition, but frozen can also provide us with quality nutrition. When produce is in-season, eat up. Off-season, the best approach is to choose a mix of fresh and frozen.