Fresh vs Frozen Fruits and Vegetables? Here’s What You Need to Know.

I’ve been asked by a lot of clients recently whether it’s “ok” to use frozen fruits and veggies in smoothies, for meal prep, as snacks, etc. or if they “must” always use fresh. In general, I recommend folks try and get in as many colors in their diet as possible and to pick fresh when available and in season and to go frozen when not. Priority is on variety, practicality and your own tastes. Thankfully, Mary Jane Brown, PhD, RD has put together this awesome article giving us the bottom line on the fresh vs frozen debate. Give it a read and crunch on! 

Too busy to click and read. I gotcha. Here is the verbatim “Take Home Message”

  • Freshly picked fruits and vegetables straight from the farm or your own garden are of the highest quality.
  • However, if you are shopping at the supermarket, frozen produce may be equal to, or in some cases, even more nutritious than fresh varieties.
  • At the end of the day, frozen fruit and vegetables are a convenient and cost-effective alternative to fresh options.
  • It’s best to choose a mix of fresh and frozen produce to ensure you get the best range of nutrients.

Other great points the author makes:

  • Bottom Line: Fresh fruit and vegetables are often picked before they are fully ripe. Transportation and storage can take anywhere from 3 days and up to 12 months for some types of produce.
  • Bottom Line: Frozen fruit and vegetables are generally picked at peak ripeness. They are often washed, blanched, frozen and packaged within a few hours of being harvested.
  • Bottom Line: Blanching results in a loss of antioxidants, B-vitamins and vitamin C. However, nutrient levels remain fairly stable after freezing.
  • Bottom Line: Certain vitamins and antioxidants begin to decline immediately after harvesting. Therefore, it’s best to eat fresh fruits and vegetables as soon as possible.
  • Bottom Line: Frozen produce is nutritionally similar to fresh produce. When nutrient decreases are reported in frozen produce, they’re generally small.
  • Bottom Line: Frozen fruits and vegetables may have higher levels of vitamin C than produce that has been stored at home for several days.