Growing up, everyone hears about the importance of eating vegetables. They are an essential part of a balanced diet. Vegetables provide vital nutrients and vitamins, even if they have the reputation of not tasting good. When shopping at the grocery store, there are plenty of fresh vegetable options, but the frozen section has vegetables as well. Everyone knows fresh vegetables are healthy, but do frozen vegetables provide the same benefits? Here is a comparison between fresh and frozen vegetables overall.
Vitamins and Nutrients
Fresh vegetables are more nutritious compared to frozen vegetables, simply because they have less time to lose some of their important natural nutrients. They are often picked right before they are fully ripe, allowing for the vegetables to have some time to ripen up during transit to stores. The transit process takes anywhere from a couple of days to about a week, and then they have another few days of shelf life on display at the store. Since customers can pick from all the different options displayed, it’s important to know what to look for when making a specific purchase.
The longer vegetables sit around, the less Vitamin C they will have. This is the only major nutrient that begins to drain rapidly in fresh vegetables. The good news is that carotenoids and phenolics increase after getting picked. For frozen vegetables, other vitamins are lost after going through the blanching process. This process is when vegetables are tossed into boiling water for just a few minutes. It’s necessary to kill bacteria and preserve flavor and texture.
However, it comes at the risk of losing all water-soluble nutrients. Vitamin B and Vitamin C both fall into this category. Frozen vegetables do keep a lot of their vitamins and nutrients, but not enough to give them the edge over fresh vegetables.
Why are frozen vegetables so popular? In just a few microwave minutes, a person can have tasty vegetables to use for a meal. Purchases can be made in bulk, because frozen vegetables can be left untouched for months. The drawback to fresh vegetables is they need to be consumed, or frozen, within about a week. Otherwise, you run the risk of not being able to do anything with them.
Availability Vegetables are Very Seasonal
The same fresh vegetable in March might cost a lot more in November. With frozen vegetables, the prices are pretty stable. The price is dictated mostly by local supply. Shop vegetables that are in season, and you can enjoy some real savings with fresh options. If the vegetable is out of season, it is worth stopping by the frozen aisle to compare prices.
Which Option is Better Overall: Fresh or Frozen Vegetables?
All things considered the freshest vegetables possible are often the best option. The longer fresh vegetables sit around, the more they become relative equals, nutrition-wise, to frozen vegetables. Seek out local farmer’s market or a similar direct source for the most nutritious vegetables possible. If you are able to, grow your own vegetables and control the supply that way. Frozen vegetables are great for those who don’t want to watch expiration dates that closely, but it won’t deliver the same punch.