The USDA recommends we consume 2 ½ to 3 cups of vegetables and 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruits per day! This recommendation is for moderately active individuals. A greater daily intake might be used for those getting more exercise. A mentor once told me, “the goals that get measured, get met!” So let’s do some food tracking together, what did you eat yesterday? Did you meet the daily recommendation? If you have trouble enough imagining five cups of fruits and vegetables on a plate let alone getting around to eating it, you're in the majority! An article from Todays Dietitian reported on a 2015 national survey that 76% missed the daily intake recommendation for fruit and 87% missed the daily intake for vegetables. If only our nutritional needs could be graded on a bell curve!
Even those wanting to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables may struggle to meet this goal consistently. Poor meal planning/preparation results in unwanted food waste. An even more significant consequence might be the missed opportunity in consumed nutrients! The most beneficial option to incorporate nutritious meals into our diet is to start with buying fresh produce. However, that depends!
The Nutrient Retention Problem!
Even from fresh produce, getting the most benefit depends on nutrient content and retention. The longer a fruit/vegetable sits out after being harvested the more it's nutritional content will decline. The article from Today’s Dietitian by Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN explains that the fresh produce sent to grocery stores are picked early to avoid spoiling in stores. These fruits/vegetables in turn are not able to develop their full range vitamins and minerals.
The critical factor to maximize the nutritional content is to eat your fruits/vegetables close to the time it’s harvested and at its peak ripeness. Time spent in distribution, in stores, or at home will decline some nutritional content. For this reason, many experts praising frozen produce as a viable and even preferred option for nutrient content and cost effectiveness.
Fresh Produce vs Frozen Produce
In an article from Precision Nutrition, Ryan Andrews explains that unless consumed within 72 hours, a fresh fruit or vegetable might lose up to 15-60% of some vitamins. The same fruits/vegetables frozen will have only lost up to 20% of these vitamins. Andrews compared the vitamin C content from fresh and frozen spinach. The quantity of vitamin C (mg/100g) of freshly picked spinach after 2 days dropped from 17.0 to 4.1. Frozen spinach only dropped from 17.0 to 14.0 of its vitamin C content. The article goes on to cite the FDA and IFIC stating that the nutrient content for frozen produce is nearly the same to that of fresh produce.
Today’s Dietitian article reported on a study of antioxidant content in fresh vs frozen produce. Antioxidant levels in frozen produce were similar in fresh produce however the antioxidant levels in fresh produce reached a low point in just three days. Studies from the University of California, Davis, and University of Georgia were also cited finding the nutritional content of frozen fruits and vegetables to be just as rich in nutrients.
Thalheimer explains that while fresh produce is susceptible to moisture loss, nutrient loss, and further spoilage - freezing puts a halt on all factors.
The Flash Freezing Process
Frozen Garden uses a process known as flash freezing. Using this method the produce is allowed to fully ripen, our farmers harvest the fruits and vegetables at their peak season and freshness. This ensures the highest quality, taste and nutrient content. Once harvested the produce is taken to our production facility where it is washed, cut, and frozen.
Flash freezing uses no chemicals or additives. Pressurized air is able to freeze the produce within 30 minutes. The amount of time the fruits/vegetable are taken from being harvested in the field to frozen in our facility is typically within 24 hours. It is not uncommon for our produce to be flash frozen with a couple hours upon being harvested.
The flash freezing process allows us to preserve and utilize local fruits and vegetables in our Frozen Garden smoothies all year round! To view all of the flavors available, click here.
The final consensus among the experts is to get nutrients in anyway you can! Hopefully these studies inspire confidence in choosing more frozen fruits/vegetables into your daily needs! The proven benefits for ensuring nutrient retention speak for themselves!