If you’re only hitting up the fresh aisles at the supermarket, you might be missing out. Blueberries in your overnight oats, daily desk-based buffets of carrot crudités… Way to nail those servings of fruit and veggies. But where you buy and store the good stuff might be nearly as important as eating it at all.
Frozen vs fresh
Frozen actually beat out fresh in terms of nutritional content for vitamin C, beta-carotene and folate in eight types of produce, one study found. And this isn’t the first piece of research to support the benefits of choosing frozen. Experts at the University of Chester in the UK compared levels of vitamin C in a range of frozen items with levels in fresh produce stored in the fridge for three days at 3.8 degrees. With the exception of cauliflower, levels were similar in fresh and frozen produce. But once the fresh food had been stored for a few days, vitamin C content fell below that of the frozen, with blueberries showing the biggest drop.
So why does frozen fare better?
It’s like buying a car: the moment a shiny new model leaves the lot, it loses value. The same goes for freshly picked fruit and veggies. Despite boasting high levels of nutrients, many start to degrade as soon as they’re harvested. By the time they’re in your kitchen, the good-for-you profile has dropped. Frozen produce, on the other hand, is packaged at peak quality, helping it stay that exact way longer.
The big-picture perspective: eating more fruit and vegetables in any form will positively impact your health. So think about striking a mix of fresh and frozen in your weekly diet. If you’re throwing together a salad with veggies and crisp green leaves, go fresh. But if you’re cooking up soups, stir-fries and post-workout shakes with ingredients like corn, peppers and berries, frozen is a fantastic option.
READ MORE: 9 Zinc-Rich Foods That Belong In Your Diet
Best of the bunch
Use this handy cheat sheet for what to grab where at the market. Fresh: cherries, nectarines, strawberries, mealies, broccoli, green beans. Frozen: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, spinach, peas, cauliflower.