Are Fresh Fruits And Vegetables Better Than Frozen or Canned?
When people ask which fruits and vegetables are more nutritious: fresh, frozen, or canned? Most of us would answer fresh because vitamin and mineral contents are thought to be unchanged and to remain intact, correct? Apparently the answer is not that easy. Quoting from Fitday, the existing content of vitamins and minerals in fresh fruits and vegetables are lost more easily we thought because how we store and we process them may reduce their nutritional content.
A study conducted by the University of Georgia proves that fresh fruits and vegetables do not always have a greater mineral and vitamin content than canned or frozen produce. The study examined eight kinds of fruits and vegetables: cauliflowers, broccoli, green beans, green peas, spinach, corn, blueberries, and strawberries. The researchers compared the nutritional content of fresh fruits and vegetables at the time of purchase and five days after being stored in the refrigerator and in the freezer. It turns out that frozen fruits and vegetables contain higher vitamin A, vitamin C and folate than the fresh ones.
Frozen and canned fruits or vegetables can store nutrients that are often missing in fresh products that are stored several days after harvest. Canned fruits and vegetables lose nutrients in small amounts due to it being cooked before canning, but they will preserve nutrients after canning since there is no oxygen intake. While frozen fruits and vegetables will not lose a lot of nutrition during the process of blanching before freezing, they are likely to decrease slightly in nutritional value after freezing due to oxidation after remaining frozen for a long time.
What should we choose?
It is mentioned in Fitday that the most nutrients (vitamins and phytochemicals content) in fruits and vegetables are those found in freshly picked and harvested produce that is eaten on the same day. However, we normally consume them in a few days or more after harvest. Consequently, the vitamin content is much reduced when compared to canned and frozen produce. To reduce a large loss of nutrients, use as little water as possible when cooking vegetables (i.e. steam them which can retain more vitamins).
Finally, what we need to consider when buying canned fruits and vegetables is the sugar/syrup or salt added in them, which will make the product less healthy. Therefore if we want to buy the canned items, choose those not soaked in salt, sugar, or syrup. Find, if possible, those just soaked in water. However, if it is difficult to find those in the supermarket, to reduce salt and sugar in canned products, remove the water in the can and wash the fruits and veggies before we consuming.
If you have a small yard around the house, you can try to grow your own plants or you can purchase them directly from local farmers to get the fresh ones. For you who do not have a yard nor who live near farming areas (like me), the easiest way is by combining the fresh, canned, and frozen items to maximize vitamin and mineral content.