Ever found yourself holding a $7 carton of berries and thought, “What the heck?” Yeah, we’ve been there. Then you’re rolling your cart through the freezer section and you see those same berries in much greater quantities for much cheaper. There’s gotta be a catch, right?
Actually, no. Generally, experts agree that fresh and frozen fruits and veggies are pretty nutritionally similar. That said, they’re not identical. The difference really depends on the individual type of produce and how it’s processed to get frozen versus how long you’d store it in your fridge. But you don’t need to be too worried that if you choose frozen produce, you’re losing a ton of nutrients. Let’s do a deeper dive into the differences.
Pros: Fresh produce has a real trump card in its pocket and we bet you can guess it. Yep, it’s flavor. While today’s freezing processes do a pretty good job of locking in flavor, there’s just nothing like biting into a ripe peach or slicing into a juicy tomato.
Cons: It’s expensive. No, seriously, that’s the biggest issue here. Loading up your cart with fresh fruit and vegetables is one of the best things you can do for your body — and one of the worst things you can do for your wallet. It’ll sting a little at checkout.
On top of that, availability can be an issue. If something is out of season, you might be forced to choose the frozen option. So let’s look at what that means, both for your health and your pocketbook.
Pros: The two big perks of frozen produce are upfront price and longevity, which ultimately also helps you keep more money in your wallet. How often have you thrown out that $7 carton of berries you bought seriously three days ago because they’re seemingly instantly covered in mold?
Since fresh produce is pretty pricey, it’s pretty heartbreaking to have to trash it. With frozen produce, you don’t have that issue. But don’t use the lack of mold as an excuse to let things languish in your freezer forever, either. Studies show that frozen produce does still lose nutrients over time, so eating it sooner is better.
Cons: As we mentioned, some types of produce lose nutrient density when they’re frozen. Specifically, vitamins B and C are compromised (but vitamin C starts degrading pretty much as soon as something is picked so we’re kind of always fighting a losing battle there). Generally, high-vitamin B or C produce (like citrus) is best to choose fresh when you can.
Now you know. Do your wallet a favor and buy frozen when you want!
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