Could Frozen Vegetables Be More Nutritious Than Fresh?
Science says yes.
Let's all admit it: It is so much easier to add a bag of frozen broccoli to our grocery carts than comb through piles of florets to find one perfect green bunch—only to take it home and spend precious minutes trimming its leaves and stalks, and cut it into bite-size pieces to steam or sauté. But removing all that work—by buying broccoli in a bag, ready to pop into the microwave or in a pan—definitely feels like cheating.
But could buying frozen veggies actually have an upside?
A new study shows that many vegetables and some fruits are just as nutritious when they come from the freezer section—and often, they're even better for us than the fresh variety. So go ahead and cheat away.
For two years, University of Georgia researchers analyzed the various nutritional values—i.e., vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate levels—of broccoli, cauliflower, corn, green beans, green peas, spinach, blueberries, and strawberries. For the study, the produce was stored in three ways: fresh, refrigerated, or frozen.
The research, which will be published in June's edition of the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, shows that all vegetables and fruit—whether fresh, refrigerated, or frozen—have essentially the same nutritional value. But often, frozen veggies and fruits have even higher levels of nutrients than other varieties.
"When considering the refrigerated storage to which consumers may expose their fresh produce prior to consumption, the findings of this study do not support the common belief of consumers that fresh food has significantly greater nutritional value than its frozen counterpart," the researchers write.
Now, here's the all-too-common-rub: The research was sponsored, in part, by the Frozen Food Foundation, which has an obvious stake in proving frozen foods are just as good as fresh. But still, the research holds some promise. If Veggies and fruit are frozen at their freshest points, a process called fresh freezing, it found that they hold on to those nutrients once they're in the freezer.