“Fresh is best” is a motto for many health buffs, but recent research indicates that in some cases, frozen fruit has a higher health quotient. This is the case for fruits like blueberries; one study by researchers at South Dakota University has found that freezing blueberries boosts the bioavailability of anthocyanins - powerful antioxidants that offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits.
Blueberries aren’t the only produce that benefits from being frozen soon after picking. Anthocyanins are just one of many antioxidants that can be preserved in optimal state by simply freezing produce.
When Produce Loses its Wet Weight
A study published by CR Fellers found that green peas lose over half of their wet weight in the first day or two after being picked. Therefore, by the time this produce makes its way to our groceries and into our shopping basket, it is significantly less nutritious than when harvested. This isn’t always the case, of course. For instance, fresh produce tends to contain higher levels of vitamin C than frozen, but a recent study by SM Wunderlich et al found that fresh broccoli that is purchased when it is out of season (i.e. imported from abroad) has only 50 percent of the vitamin C content of seasonal broccoli. Therefore, if you opt for fresh produce, you should ensure that what you are buying is seasonal. Moreover, aim to purchase food from local growers who can sell you recently harvested produce.
The Benefits Range Beyond Fruit And Vegetables
A University of Illinois study has found that nutritious frozen foods can play an important part on a weight loss regimen. This is because frozen meals are portion controlled, and can aid those wishing to keep their total caloric count beneath a specific level. In the study, participants were divided into two groups. All participants reduced their caloric intake to 1,700 calories for an eight-week period, but one group prepared their own food (following the food pyramid) while the other consumed frozen foods. The results were that those who followed the frozen diet lost more weight (16 pounds), than those who made their own food (the latter lost 11.2 pounds).
The Cost Benefits Of Frozen Foods
TheKitchn.com notes that buying produce in a frozen state can significantly lower costs. Fruits like pineapple, for instance, cost over a dollar less per pound when frozen, than fresh. In addition to the retail price, keeping frozen foods in a separate freezer can help prevent the wastage that occurs when fresh food isn’t eaten in a set number of days. Freezing foods can also ensure you always have something to thaw out or heat up quickly in the microwave when hunger strikes.
Buy Frozen Foods As Is
The key to making the most of the nutritional content of frozen foods, and of using these foods to aid in weight loss, is to purchase them in their purest state. For instance, it is better to buy separate bags of frozen vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, than to buy these in a mixed state with a ready-made sauce. Sauces should ideally be made at home on the spot, served above piping hot steamed, boiled, or grilled vegetables.
To ensure your family is healthy and energetic, don’t be reticent to rely on both frozen and fresh foods. Research which fruits have a greater nutritional content when frozen. These include blueberries and orange juice, whose nutrients become more “bio-available” thanks to cooling processes. When buying fresh, stick to seasonal foods that have been recently picked. Go organic when you can; this produce has been found to have a higher antioxidant content than conventionally grown foods.
About The Author:
Jennifer Trent is a freelance writer and editor. As a former nutrition consultant she specializes in writing about health and nutrition. When not working she loves to read, travel and spend time with her young family.