MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Whether it’s taste, convenience, cost, shoppers often have a preference when it comes to fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.
But, which one is nutritionally better? Good Question.
“The research says they’re basically equivalent when it comes to vitamin and mineral content,” says Dr. Lisa Harnack, director of the University of Minnesota’s Nutrition Coordinating Center.
In a study from the University of California Davis, but affiliated with the frozen food industry’s trade group, researchers found the vitamin content of the frozen produce was comparable to and occasionally higher than, comparable fresh fruits and vegetables.
In most cases, frozen produce is harvested when it’s ripe.
According to Karen Wilder, senior director of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Schwan Food Company, the produce is rinsed and the debris is removed before it’s flash frozen at temperatures far below a typical freezer. The process happens within hours.
After that, the fruits and vegetables are then stored at temperatures of zero degrees or below.
“We try to get it as cold as possible as fast as possible,” says Kelly Thompson, research and development manager at Cascadian Farms.
But, Harnack points out, the nutritional difference between the two can be variable, if at all.
“The thinking is maybe carrots lose some of those vitamins while their stored or in transit,” she says. “But, they remain an excellent source of Vitamin A, you don’t lose enough of the nutrients to say they’re not good.”
She recommends people eat their fruits and vegetables any way they can – fresh or frozen.
“I say do whatever works for you,” Harnack says.