What's Healthier—Fresh Or Frozen Fruits & Veggies?

by Danny Cullen

It’s a question as old as your new blender—are frozen fruits and vegetables as good for you as the fresh stuff? The answer is, like so many health and fitness questions, it depends.

Dr. Ali Bouzari, the head of Sonoma, California-based Pilot R+D, a culinary research lab, weighs in on the issue for the New York Times saying, “It really depends on which plant you’re talking about…there’s no clear winner.” 

Bouzari has extensively studied the effects of temperature on fruits and vegetables, and as you might expect, has drawn some interesting conclusions. 

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The first is that nutrients and vitamins are more hardy than you’d expect. “Minerals like iron are almost bulletproof. And fiber doesn’t care at all whether it’s heated or frozen,” he said in the same NY Times interview. 

Dr. Bouzari and colleagues at UC-Davis studied eight different fruits and vegetables—in both their fresh and frozen varieties—and compared their nutrient and vitamin compositions. They found that there were no consistent differences between frozen and fresh. 

For example, frozen broccoli had more vitamin B than fresh, while frozen peas had fewer. Surprisingly, frozen corn green beans and blueberries actually had more vitamin C than their fresh cohorts. The only constant amongst the fruits and vegetables, it seems, is inconsistency.

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So what does it all mean? Well, first and foremost, the data shows that there are differences between fresh and frozen vegetables, and they are often unexpected. Though these differences, according to Dr. Bouzari, are so minimal, that it they’re practically insignificant. The most important thing is that you’re eating vegetables and fruit in the first place.

For those looking to optimize all of their fruit and vegetable consumption, there are a couple worthwhile things to keep in mind. Fresh berries, for instance, can lose nutrients while sitting on a shelf, so they’re worth eating quickly. Also, if you do decide to purchase frozen produce, look for “IQF” or “individually quick frozen” fruits and vegetables for the best quality. 

Do you prefer frozen or fresh produce? Tell us why in the comments. 

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