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Fruits and vegetables provide endless nutritional benefits for growing kids. From reducing the obesity risk to providing essential vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables are a must on any kid’s plate. The good news is – managing your child’s fruit and vegetable intake isn’t very difficult now, even if she’s a fussy eater. When in season, fruits and veggies are available in plenty, but you can now provide these vital foods all year round by freezing them. Read more on the pros and cons of using frozen fruits and vegetables for kids.
Parents often have to beg, plead, scold and sometimes even bribe their kids to eat their daily dose of seasonal fruits and vegetables. There’s an easy solution for this problem – frozen food! Now the question arises, ‘Are frozen fruits and vegetables nutritious?’ Although there may be minor differences in nutritional composition, frozen food is generally as good for health as fresh food.
Advantages of Using Frozen Fruits and Vegetables:
1. Quick Healthy Fixes
Frozen fruits and vegetables can help busy cooks get meals on the table a lot quicker. You do not need to wash, cut or peel them. After a long day, you can simply grab frozen products for dinner. This will encourage you to eat healthy food at home instead of dining out.
2. Cost-Effective Option
Frozen foods are often cheaper than fresh produce, especially if you compare the cost of fruits and vegetables when not in season.
3. No Additives
Freezing preserves the fruits and, hence, there is no need for adding any preservative or additive to a bag of frozen fruits. To be certain, always check the ingredients.
4. Frozen Fruits Maintain their Shape
The shape of fruits like berries is well-preserved even when frozen.
5. No Compromise on Nutritional Quality
You do not need to sacrifice nutrition when you choose frozen produce. Frozen fruits and vegetables are processed at the peak of freshness when they have the maximum amount of nutrients. The nutritional value of frozen fruits and vegetables is sometimes even more than the fresh varieties, especially if the “fresh” fruit or vegetable has spent long weeks in transportation or in your refrigerator.
6. Preserves Water-Soluble Nutrients
Some of the water soluble vitamins are preserved by freezing. A study carried out with fresh v/s frozen fruits/veggies found that in 2 out of 3 cases, frozen veggies and fruits had a higher content of antioxidant nutrients like beta-carotene, lutein, anthocyanins and polyphenols.
7. Fresh Produce is Harvested before Ripeness
Fresh fruits are prematurely harvested before getting to their nutritional optimum and artificially ripened during transportation to the supermarket. In contrast to this, frozen fruits and vegetables, are harvested at full ripeness and processed immediately. That’s typically why even after pasteurisation or blanching foods like frozen peas, they still remain more nutritious than fresh peas.
8. Prevents Exposure to Light, Heat, and Oxygen
Freezing almost entirely prevents the oxidation that happens to fresh produce when it is exposed to light, heat and oxygen.
9. Freezing Preserves the Nutrients
When you freeze produce, the respiration process (responsible for the deterioration of fresh produce) nearly stops. Food with higher respiration rates like beans may be healthier for you if you buy them frozen, at least when they’re out of season and are being shipped in.
Disadvantages of Using Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
1. Losses During Processing
Processing can lead to some, though not a very significant loss of nutrients. Frozen peas, carrots, black-eyed peas, beans are not raw. They are pre-cooked or blanched to destroy bacteria and parasites. Hence, there are chances of some vitamin content getting destroyed by heat processing. Contrary to this, a recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2015), highlights that fruits and vegetables that are frozen have as much (and at times more) nutrients than fresh.
2. Need to Read the Ingredients List Carefully
Be watchful on the amounts of these ingredients:
- Salt: Some frozen vegetables include added salt. You may judiciously choose a “no salt” or “low salt” product. This issue mainly applies to veggies.
- Sugar: Frozen fruits often have added corn syrup or another form of sugar and these versions are better avoided.
- High-calorie sauces: Frozen foods sometimes come in an unhealthy sauce, so choose plain varieties instead.
3. Avoid Long-term Storage
The nutritional value of frozen fruits will decrease after 3 months of storage; hence it is advisable if you buy and consume it within this time limit. If you have bought vegetables, break them into smaller quantities before opening. You can store your frozen fruits and veggies in the bag you bought them in; once opened, transfer the remaining content into a plastic zipper bag. This will prevent freezer burn.
The Bottom Line
Fresh produce is often the tastiest, a more environment-friendly and supposedly healthy option. You can’t beat what you just picked from your garden or that which is bought from a trustworthy seller at a local farmer’s market. But during the off-seasons or if purchased at the supermarket, there’s no telling how long ago they were picked. As against, frozen varieties can provide you with vital nutrients and help you increase your family’s consumption of these health-promoting fruits and vegetables.
So grab some high-quality fruits and vegetables and keep them handy by freezing them. This will ensure you always have them available for you and your family. You can even make frozen fruits and veggies on your own. Just chop up fresh, ripe produce and store it in freezer bags for meals throughout the year. Knowing this, will you prefer frozen fruits and vegetables for your family or still will opt for fresh produce? Let us know in the comments below what you vote for – Fresh or Frozen?