We always used to wonder which to go for: fresh or frozen produce. But after delving into the research we finally know which is best!

There’s a huge range of frozen veg, frozen meat and even frozen rice and pasta now!

You might assume that because these products are cheap they must be lacking in nutrition and a poor man’s version of good food.

In this article we’re going to scrutinise the science, dispel the myths and discover what’s really best — you may be surprised by what you read!

Nutrition

The fresh fruit and vegetables found in supermarkets aren’t always as ‘fresh’ as you may have been lead to believe.

With sweet potatoes coming from the USA and broccoli from Spain, the word ‘fresh’ is a little misleading — from picking to packing to plating up, you might be shocked to hear that your ‘fresh’ food may be up to 8-10 days old!

As soon as produce is picked, it begins to degrade and the nutritional content slowly reduces over time. Therefore, if you’re having to wait 5-10 days to plate up your veg, the nutritional content is less than ideal.

Not to mention, food that is sold ‘fresh’ is often picked prior to peak ripeness to ensure that it arrives at the supermarkets looking fresh and ripe. This means that the products may not be fully developed with their full vitamin and mineral content.

Frozen fruit and veg on the other hand, can often be picked at peak ripeness and frozen immediately. This means it is far more likely to be chock-full of the healthy nutrients you expect from your produce.

So the saying that frozen produce ‘locks in’ those all-important vitamins and minerals is actually right — for once what sounded like a myth has turned out to be true!

Cost

So now we know that frozen produce is often healthier than the fresh equivalent, let’s see which is kinder on the wallet.

A fresh broccoli from Tesco will set you back £0.49 (sounds like a bargain!). The average weight is 335g which equates to around £1.47/kg.

Frozen broccoli florets are £0.90 for a 907g bag, which equates to £0.99/kg, not to mention that the fresh stuff includes the chunky stalk that nobody really eats!

Moving on to fruit, a 150g punnet of blueberries from Tesco will cost you £2.00 (£13.34/kg), whereas a 350g punnet of frozen blueberries are also £2.00, which equates to less that half the price at £5.72/kg!

So, perhaps unsurprisingly, frozen is also a winner when it comes to cost.

Convenience

Frozen fruit and vegetables are often packed in a handy re-sealable packet or box that can all be stacked in your freezer and left for a good couple of months without a worry.

On the other hand, awkward shapes such as broccoli, bananas and sweetcorn can clog up your fridge shelves and can often end up turning brown and mouldy before you remember they are even there!

Opting for frozen fruit and veg is a great way to ensure that you’ve always got healthy micronutrients at hand, plus they often require minimal preparation – ideal for a busy lifestyle!

Conclusions

At the end of the day, fruit and veg is healthy whether it’s fresh or frozen.

It is all healthy and will provide you with the essential micro and macronutrients needed to live a healthy lifestyle.

Frozen foods may be ideal for some, yet this doesn’t mean fresh is bad. British farmers’ markets are as fresh as fresh gets, so if you have the luxury of a few extra pennies, nothing will really top these for freshness!

However, for the rest of us, as long as you are checking the labels and ensuring that the frozen goods you are buying are 100% vegetable and fruit, you may be better off!

A rule of thumb seems to be that the more water content a product has, the poorer it freezes; this is why you wont really find-frozen cucumber or lettuce anywhere!

So to conclude, if you want to get the most bang for your buck, frozen fruit and veg seems to be the way to go!

References

[1] Bouzari, A., Holstege, D., & Barrett, D. M. (2014). Vitamin Retention in Eight Fruits and Vegetables: A Comparison of Refrigerated and Frozen Storage, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 63(3), 957-962.

[2] Bernhardt, S., & Schlich, E. (2006). Impact of different cooking methods on food quality: Retention of lipophilic vitamins in fresh and frozen vegetables, Journal of Food Engineering, 77(2), 327-333.