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A study from the Frozen Found Foundation and the University of Georgia (UGA) has found that the nutritional value of many frozen fruits and vegetables are generally equal to that of corresponding fresh items.
Additionally, the amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C and folates in some frozen fruits and vegetables were discovered to be higher than those of fresh-stored produce. This finding is likely due to the nutrient degradation that occurs in fresh produce during storage, as frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and frozen at the of peak ripeness, thereby sealing in the nutrient value at the time of freezing.
“Our research shows that frozen fruits and vegetables are nutritionally equal to – and in some cases better than – their fresh counterparts,” affirmed Dr. Ronald Pegg, associate professor of food science and technology at Athens-based UGA's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, who headed the study. “In particular, vitamin A was greater in frozen fruits and vegetables than select fresh-stored fruits and vegetables.”
The study mimicked the consumer buying and storage habits of blueberries, strawberries, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, green peas and spinach. To account for such variables as growing conditions, country of origin and time in the supply chain, composite samples were prepared from fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables bought from six independent grocery stores. Each fruit and vegetable was analyzed under three conditions: frozen; fresh (on the day of purchase); and fresh-stored (after five days of storage in a kitchen refrigerator).
“Frozen fruits and vegetables can play an important role in helping Americans easily add more fruits and vegetables to their diets to meet daily recommendations,” noted Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka, president and CEO of the Hockessin, Del.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation. “Fresh and frozen produce have minor nutritional variances, and provide a wide range of valuable nutrients essential for good health.”
“Freezing is simply nature’s pause button,” added Kraig R. Naasz, president of the McLean, Va.-based Frozen Food Foundation, a nonprofit American Frozen Food Institute-affiliated organization. “As this research clearly shows, freezing is a natural and effective way to preserve the nutritional value and quality of fresh food.”