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Are Frozen Vegetables As Good As They Seem?

The age old debate; are frozen vegetables as good as fresh. I’m going to break this down into the pros for both, then some tips on how to make sure your vegetables are packed with nutrients by the time they hit the plate.

Frozen vegetables pros:

  • They retain nutrients from being snap frozen. They are usually picked or harvested at peak ripeness then snap frozen within hours, which helps them maintain maximum nutrient levels
  • They make it easy to get veggies that are out of season
  • Let’s be honest, it’s way more convenient to have your veggies cut up and waiting for you in the freezer, so let’s give them a point for saving time
  • Can be stored for longer than fresh vegetables
  • Less food wastage
  • According to ABC Health & Wellbeing, in two independent studies, which together included more than 40 tests on the most commonly bought fruit and vegetables, it showed in two thirds of cases, frozen foods had higher levels of antioxidant-type compounds, including vitamin C, polyphenols, anthocyanins, lutein and beta carotene on day three of storage
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables may have higher levels of vitamin C than fresh produce that has been stored at home for several days according to Orak HH et al (2012)

Fresh vegetables pros:

  • Fresh can, and usually, taste better than frozen 
  • They usually have a better texture and don’t get freezer burn
  • If you've picked them straight from the farm, they are packed with nutrients
  • Can get in-season vegetables at peak deliciousness

That’s pretty much all I could think of for pros of fresh. Let me make something clear, I’m not saying to boycott fresh for frozen, my main point here is to explain why frozen isn’t bad and doesn’t have to be avoided due to the reputation that they aren’t as good as fresh. In a world where we have ridiculous amounts of food wastage (the average Australian household is sends roughly 4.9 kilograms of food waste to landfill each week according to FoodBank Victoria), grabbing frozen vegetables may mean less veggies spoiling in your fridge, as frozen veggies have a much longer shelf life than fresh veggies. 

Tips to keep your veggies packed with nutrients:

If boiling your vegetables, use a little bit of water and cook them for a short time. Boiling veggies in a large amount of water for an extended period of time lets the vitamins leach out into the water. The best way to cook them to retain the most amount of nutrient is steaming or microwaving. 

A simple rule to remember when cooking vegetables is: keep cooking time, temperature and the amount of liquid to a minimum when cooking your vegetables.

Side note: Most frozen vegetables at the shops are free of additives and preservatives, however some may contain added sugar, salt or come with premade sauces or seasoning mixes. These added sauces and seasoning can increase the amount of sodium, fat, or calories in the final product so be mindful when picking your frozen vegetables that come in a pack.

References1

1) https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2017-05-14/fresh-vs-frozen-vegies/8443310

2) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fresh-vs-frozen-fruit-and-vegetables#TOC_TITLE_HDR_6

3) https://www.foodbank.org.au/food-waste-facts-in-australia/?state=nsw-act

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