Is fresh food really the best?

By Michelle Cort

Today’s busy lifestyle often results in meals being made in a hurry.  The convenience of adding frozen vegetables to a dish means we don’t always ‘eat fresh’. Is this a problem?

Any fruit or vegetable eaten immediately after harvest is the best choice in obtaining essential nutrients. However if, (like most people), you don’t have your own veggie patch and backyard orchard, frozen vegetables can be a great alternative.

In the majority of cases frozen fruit and vegetables contain more antioxidants (vitamins and nutrients that keep our immune system healthy and fight disease) compared to fresh varieties that are stored in the fridge for a few days.

Whether your food is fresh or frozen, the cooking method will affect the nutrients retained in the food. Photo: Sourced. 

Whether your food is fresh or frozen, the cooking method will affect the nutrients retained in the food. Photo: Sourced. 

Some fresh fruit and vegetables can spend days, (or weeks), in transit from farm to market to home fridges. During this time, many nutrient levels are decreasing. Alternatively frozen fruits and vegetables are snap-frozen shortly after harvest, which seals in nutrients. Vegetables that have been stored at home for a while are still a great source of fibre, which is another positive reason for eating them daily.

Frozen fruit and vegetables are a good way for Australians to boost their fruit and vegetable intake (which for many is below the recommended 2 serves of fruit and 5 of vegetables per day).

Frozen options are also a convenient option when the fresh item is out of season.

Does Cooking Matter?

Whether your food is fresh or frozen, the cooking method will affect the nutrients retained in the food. Steaming, stir-frying or microwaving vegetables is a much better alternative to boiling. Boiling foods causes some nutrients to leach out into the water.

What’s on Your Shopping List?

If you shop once a week, consider buying a mix of fresh and frozen vegetables. Consume the fresh variety earlier in the week and incorporate the frozen ones into meals later on.

If you are buying frozen vegetables check the label to make sure no salt and sugar have been added. 

About Michelle Cort 
Michelle Cort is an Advanced Sports Dietitian who currently works as the Sports Nutrition Manager for Cricket Australia, and is the Sports Performance Dietitian for the Australian Sailing Team. Michelle has worked with several AFL, NRL and Super Rugby Teams over the past 15 years and has previously worked in conjunction with the Real Madrid Football Team.