By Reem Abdulrahman Jassim al-Muftah
Lots of people ask me if fresh fruit is healthier than frozen fruit and I wasn’t too sure until I recently looked into the topic and did some research. What do you think? The majority of people will jump to answer that fresh fruit is more beneficial than frozen due to its freshness. Well, as you read you might be shocked so lets get straight to the point and take a closer look.
When it comes to fresh fruit, they are usually picked right before they are ripe so that they can ripen during their transportation to the markets leaving them less developed than when they are picked ripe. When picked ripe, they fully ripen leaving them with a fuller range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The problem with fresh fruit depending on where you are getting the fruit from is that transportation can take from 3 days to many months to arrive. Some fruit, such as apples, are even stored up to 12 months in controlled conditions before they are sold. Another issue is that fresh produce is usually treated with chemicals to prevent rotting the longer they are stored.
On the other hand, produce that will be frozen are mostly picked at their peak ripeness, fully developed, highly nutritious and with the highest amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Not only are they picked when they are ripe, they are also treated with usually no chemicals as they will be frozen in a matter of hours. So far frozen fruit seem to be the healthier option, also since freezing helps retain the nutrient content of the produce. However, some nutrients begin to break down when frozen produce is stored over 12 months. Some frozen fruit go through the process of blanching (placing the produce in boiling water for a few minutes), treated with ascorbic acid or adding sugar to preserve the fruit longer. Blanching is done to kill any harmful bacteria, prevents the loss of flavour, colour and texture, but also decreases the nutrient content (generally B-vitamins and Vitamin C). Studies also show that the levels of Vitamin A, E, fibre and carotenoids are similar in fresh and frozen produce even if the fruit has undergone blanching. So frozen fruit being healthier greatly depends on the process in which they were frozen, but keep in mind that the nutrient content stays intact after the fact due to the freezing process.
Now let’s take an even closer look at the post packaging situation. When fresh fruit are stored for a few days after harvest they start to lose moisture and automatically start to decrease in nutrient content. Some fresh fruit nutrient content even falls lower than that of frozen fruit. Studies show that the softer the fruit the more prone it is to dropping in nutrients. Although Vitamin C might decrease during storage, antioxidants such as carotenoids and phenolics may increase as the fruit continue to ripen.
In conclusion, studies have compared and concluded that the nutrient content in frozen and fresh fruit slightly vary. The fresher the fruit, the more nutritious, so if you are picking your fruit from your own garden or purchasing it directly from a local farm, fresh fruit might be your best bet. When it comes to supermarket produce compared to frozen fruit, frozen fruit is usually found to have higher nutrient contents as the fresh fruit has been stored for a minimum of a few days and has lost a lot of its nutrients. Some research even suggests that frozen fruit have higher fibre values and let’s be honest, at the end of they day, frozen fruit can be more practical and cost-efficient. So, my final answer is, a mix of both fresh and frozen produce is the most ideal situation, but try to look for fresh produce that has not reached its peak yet and consume them quick since we are not an agricultural state and are limited to our really fresh produce, try not to store fruit and veggies for too long and always stock your freezer with frozen produce as it does make your life a lot easier and possibly a lot more nutritious. Have a fruity day!
* The author is a wellness advocate and influencer @keys2balance.
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