Produce: Fresh, Frozen Or Canned? Does It Make A Difference?


Look At Those Antioxidant Pigments!

What I miss most about summer besides the warm weather, is visiting the local farmer’s market to pick out the wide variety of nutritious produce. You can smell the freshness in the air as your eyes are presented with a rainbow of colors. This is one of the best places to purchase your fruits and vegetables because its right from the field with the highest amount of nutrients. The optimal situation would be to grow your own garden. Although, it takes time, commitment and money up front, but its worth the effort. You know exactly how you raised your crops, they couldn’t be any fresher and the money saved is phenomenal.


Smoothies Are Just Moments Away.

How about frozen produce? In the off-season, you have to rely on your supermarket’s fresh produce section to get you through the winter and spring. After the fruit is picked, how long does it take to arrive at the store? It had to be picked before it was ripe, so it wouldn’t deteriorate before purchase day. Transportation time could be anywhere from 2-14 days to reach the market. In that period of time, up to 50% of the B vitamins and vitamin C are gone. In addition, the full complement of valuable nutrients, only available at full ripeness never happened because it was picked before it was ripe. You are also paying a premium at the supermarket off-season for produce because of transportation/storage costs to ship the products. Then you get it home and sometimes it takes another 2-3 days to use the product.


Bypass The Fresh, Cart Over To Frozen

If you now compare frozen to fresh (supermarket off-season), you have at least as much, if not more nutrients preserved in the frozen food. The reason being that it’s picked fresh and ripe, taken right off the fields and rapidly undoes flash-freezing preservation. To flash-freeze, the product is first blanched. That means running it through boiling water for seconds. This procedure kills off any bacteria, in addition to stopping enzyme activity. When enzyme activity ceases, it preserves both freshness and nutrients of the produce. Next, it is flash-frozen where it is rapidly chilled. This prevents the formation of ice crystals, which stops any damage to the cells that make up the produce. Flash freezing allows you to keep frozen produce for 6 months or longer without any negative changes in taste or nutrient content.


Read Those Labels On Side B

Comparing fresh to canned, we have to be careful to read labels for any added ingredients. Try to stay away from any additional sodium, preservatives and the canning process that utilizes BPA (bisphenol A). It should say BPA-free. BPA is a hormone interrupter. This means it can mess with your hormones and is a health risk. If only canned produce with these additions are available, then frozen is better. If you can find products without these negative additions than canned would be comparable in nutrient content to frozen.


1. Best option is to start a garden and grow it yourself.

2. If the produce is in season and grown locally, get it from the farmer’s market. As an alternative, use the supermarket for local in-state products.

3. If the produce is not in season, purchase it frozen at the supermarket.

4. Not available frozen, then purchase canned but check out the added ingredients on the food label.

5. In the off-season, supermarket produce section as a candidate of last resort.

Some Important Notes

A. When using frozen, use as little water as possible to steam the vegetables. The more water used, the higher the loss of vitamin B’s and C. Cooking methods such as microwaving and conventional ovens are best at preserving nutrients.

B. No thawing frozen before cooking, otherwise it will decrease vitamin C.

C. If purchasing frozen, look for packages marked with U.S.D.A. (United States Department of Agriculture), “U.S. Fancy” shield. This indicates produce of the best size, shape and color. Other lower grades are U.S. No. 1 (lower grade) and U.S. No. 2 (lowest grade).


All Veged Out And No Where To Go

Categories: Health

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