I love fresh veggies, and eat them almost every day. But unless I buy them at a farmers market, where produce is provided by local growers my veggies may have less nutritional value than frozen ones! That seems crazy, but here are the reasons why it’s so.
Most of the vegetables grown for freezing are allowed to reach their peak ripeness before harvest, which is also when they are at their most nutritious.
But those grown for sale in supermarkets are usually picked before they’re ripe because the transport process from field to shelf is a long one. So the development of their vitamins and minerals is stunted. Even though a tomato or avocado appears to continue to ripen once it’s reached your counter top, it will never have all of the nutritional value it would have contained had it been allowed to ripen in the field. And the elements veggies are exposed to during their journey can cause some vitamins to lose their strength—especially vitamins B and C.
Some break down of those same vitamins occurs to a lessor extent during the first step of freezing, when veggies are blanched in hot water to eradicate bacteria. But blanching is fast and the veggies are quickly flash-frozen, so the depletion is minimal. Rather than freezing nutrients out, the process actually locks them in.
Certain vegetables fare better in the freezing process than others, though. Since those classified as “brassica” vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, etc.) lose a lot of their antioxidant properties while being frozen they tend to be more nutritious when fresh. But veggies rich in fat-soluble vitamins like A and E, retain most of their nutrients when frozen.
So buy your cabbage and leafy veggies fresh, and fall back on frozen carrots and broccoli in winter months.
Another good thing about frozen veggies is that most don’t contain chemical preservatives because the freezing preserves them. But you should always read the package labels so you know for sure what’s in the food you buy.
Find free recipes and info about using the following frozen and fresh veggies:
Broccoli, Carrots, Zucchini, and Eggplant
And don’t let the deep freeze prevent you from enjoying your veggies this winter! Celebrate National Frozen Vegetables Month with the knowledge they’re full of nutrition!
Photo Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals