That’s actually a popular myth! Although fresh produce may APPEAR fresh, oftentimes produce is picked days or weeks before it appears in markets in beautiful displays…what that really means is that a lot of fresh produce’s nutrition is lost along the road to market. The Vitamin C content of produce is of particular concern because C is a water-soluble vitamin and therefore sensitive to heat, light, and oxygen, and therefore very susceptible to loss during produce storage and transportation. But since refrigeration slows deterioration of Vitamin C, frozen produce (which has been frozen so fast very little nutrition is lost) is often just as nutritious as the freshly picked produce. Frozen vs fresh broccoli is an excellent example of this concept: it loses NO Vitamin C after 7 days of storage at 0°C but 56% after 7 days of storage at 20°C.
Buying frozen produce is also a great way to save money on organics plus one of the only solutions to the problem of off-season availability…I’m a BIG fan of eating seasonally but if you’re simply DYING without strawberries in your December smoothie, frozen organic strawberries are an excellent option! (Remember strawberries are on the Dirty Dozen and should NEVER be eaten unless organic!)
Here’s a few tips for handling frozen produce:
Don’t thaw bags of veggies before cooking – steaming is the EASIEST way to cook frozen veggies but sautéing and frying also works well…pay attention to cooking instructions right on the bag.
Buy frozen produce last when shopping, store in an insulated bag on the way home, and shift to freezer the freezer the minute you get home.
Store frozen produce at the back of freezer: the temperature at the back of the freezer is less likely to fluctuate.
Jessica Lewis, CPT, CNC
HCC Lifestyle Coach