Many Australians believe that fresh vegetables are better for you than frozen, but is this really the case? The truth is, science has shown there is very little difference in nutritional value between fresh and frozen vegetables. (1) This is great news and here’s why:
Frozen Vegetable Benefits:
Less food waste:
Food waste equates to a $20 billion economy loss in Australia each year, this is 7.3 million tonnes of wasted food, which is 300kg per person, or one in every five bags of groceries. (2) Getting fresh produce onto your table at home is a long process and involves growing & farming, processing & packaging, transporting, purchasing and eating. During this time, food can become damaged and the nutrient content of the produce declines by the time it reaches your plate. Freezing vegetables immediately after farming them allows the nutrient content to remain high, and less waste is seen.
Frozen vegetables keep for a lot longer than fresh vegetables meaning you can always have some on hand for quick and easy meal times. Additionally, it allows us to have access to produce which may not be in season – frozen fruit such as mango and berries are very popular for this reason! By incorporating frozen produce allows a variety of nutrients and fibre into our diets which helps promote a healthy gut. Frozen veg is usually cheaper too which makes it a perfect budget-friendly addition.
Fresh Vegetable Benefits:
During the freezing process, ice crystals are formed. As fruit and vegetables are made up of a high percentage of water, freezing it means this water ever-so-slightly expands the cell wall. When they’re defrosted, the ice melts, which deflates and damages the cell wall changing the physical texture of the product when we eat it. (3) Less damage is done to the cell wall when food is rapidly frozen (i.e. in commercial freezing of our fruit, vegetables and other foods such as frozen ready-made meals) compared to when we freeze food in our home freezer. You may notice a difference when you freeze and defrost food from your own home, this is why it may not taste as good as when you ate it fresh! Defrosting any vegetables may just mean they’re a little more soggy compared to its fresh counterpart.
Home Garden Nutrients:
If you’re lucky enough to have a home garden, this significantly reduces the food waste, environmental impact of transporting food but also allows for maximum taste, texture and nutrients of your fruit and veg. There isn’t much difference in terms of nutrient value between fresh and frozen, but it’s very convenient having your own veggie patch in your backyard. (1)
Approximately 93% of Australians aren’t getting enough vegetables into their diet (FYI: adults should be eating 5 servings per day) and if having a bag of frozen veg in your freezer will help you work towards this, then it’s a great option! There is no significant difference between fresh and frozen veg, so just work towards having 5 a day for optimal health.
Felix & Sage Psychology
1. Li L, Pegg RB, Eitenmiller RR, Chun J-Y, Kerrihard AL. Selected nutrient analyses of fresh, fresh-stored, and frozen fruits and vegetables. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 2017;59:8-17.
2. Strategy NFW. Tackling Australia’s Food Waste: Department of the Environment and Energy; 2017 [Available from: https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste/food-waste.
3. Pearce RS. Plant Freezing and Damage. Annals of Botany. 2001;87(4):417-24.