Most people's first instinct is to assume fresh foods are always the better option when choosing fresh or frozen. Surprisingly, sometimes the frozen variety is the best choice! Do we know when to choose fresh or frozen?
A good rule of thumb for when to choose fresh produce is when it is in season. Grabbing fresh berries in the summer and fresh squash in the fall is not only is this more cost-effective as fresh produce is much easier on your wallet when it's in season, but the nutrient content of food is also at its highest during its peak growing season. Choosing fresh strawberries in July will give you more Vitamin C, but they also pack a lot more flavor than fresh strawberries you may purchase in November.
Ready to have your mind blown? Sometimes frozen produce has a higher nutrient content than fresh produce, even when in season. How is this possible? Think about where your food comes from. Those fresh strawberries might have been picked on the other side of the country (or the world) and then have to be packaged and transported to your local store, where they may then sit on a shelf for another week before you buy them. Meanwhile, those same frozen strawberries were frozen right after being picked, locking in all those immune-boosting nutrients!
Which one is best?
There's no right or wrong answer. The most important things to consider when choosing between the two - cost and convenience!
Consider what makes sense for your wallet, as well as how much you will intend to use. Sometimes freezing and storing can help reduce the amount of food wasted from going bad if forgotten in the fridge.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are often prepared to allow you to steam or add to dishes without additional prep work quickly. This time-saving strategy can help you incorporate more colorful nutrients with ease.
They are all healthy and help protect our bodies from the inside out. Any way to increase the variety of fruits and vegetables, and in turn, add nutrients to your day-to-day habits is a win!
Laura Ward, MS, RDN, IBCLC
Fooddata Central Search Results. FoodData Central. (2019, April 1). Retrieved October 12, 2021, from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169910/nutrients.
Sonomura, S. (n.d.). Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables? Retrieved October 12, 2021, from https://kidneyhi.org/dietitian-blog/fresh-frozen-or-canned-vegetables.