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Is Frozen Food As Good As Fresh?

Wondering which wins in the battle of frozen vs. fresh? Find out from a nutrition expert here!

Recently, some TikTok videos from food subscription companies have been claiming frozen food is healthier than fresh. It can be hard to tell what's trendy and what's the truth. So, what is the difference between fresh and frozen food?


Both frozen and fresh foods can be healthy choices. For some people, frozen foods can be affordable and accessible. For others, fresh foods may be the option that makes the most sense.


Read on to learn which form of food, frozen vs fresh, is best for you.

What Is The Difference Between Fresh Food And Frozen Food?

Fresh food generally refers to produce that is picked and packaged for consumers as close to harvest as possible. It's also sometimes referred to as food that is in season.


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Frozen foods, on the other hand, are typically packaged during peak ripeness to maintain nutritional value. Freezing foods also protects them from pathogens and spoilage and preserves nutritional value for future use.


But you're probably still wondering...


Is Fresh Food Better Than Frozen?

Both fresh foods and frozen foods can be nutritious. When frozen foods are properly packaged at peak ripeness, they carry the same nutrients that fresh foods do.


The decision between fresh and frozen foods often comes down to what works for your personal healthy lifestyle and habits. If you can consume more frozen foods as part of your well-balanced diet than fresh foods, keep up the good work! If fresh foods are more accessible to you than frozen, that's great, too.


Here are some pros and cons of each option.

Fresh Food

Some of the pros of fresh food include that they:

  • Can contribute nutrients to the diet

  • May have more nutrients than some canned varieties of food

  • Haven't been shipped long distances


The possible cons of fresh food include that:

  • Produce out of season can be more expensive

  • Fresh foods tend to spoil faster than canned or frozen varieties

  • Unwashed foods can have "bad" bacteria or pesticide residues



Frozen Food

Some of the pros of frozen food include that they are:

  • Affordable & convenient

  • Can improve diet quality & variety

  • Available in a number of forms and in increased amounts

  • Picked & frozen at peak ripeness

  • Can include an increased level of vitamins and minerals

  • Time & money saving

Frozen foods can be a great way to add foods from each food group to your diet. Additionally, they may benefit those with limited kitchen space or a limited number of utensils.


For example, a protein smoothie with frozen fruit can add valuable nutrients to the diet -- especially for those on a limited budget.


The possible cons of frozen food include that they:

  • May be high in additives (i.e. saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium)

  • Preserved with unhealthy ingredients

  • May be flavored with added sauces or seasoning blends that decrease the nutritional value

  • Include more than one serving size per "package"

  • Can lose some nutrients during the freezing process

  • Have a shorter storage life than canned foods

When choosing from frozen food options, look for items that were frozen at the peak of ripeness. Opt for items high in dietary fiber and nutrients in order to stay nourished and feeling full.



A Final Word On Fresh Vs. Frozen

Both frozen and fresh foods can be part of a healthy diet. Your best bet is to alternate a variety of fruits and vegetables according to what works best for you! Try keeping both fresh and frozen produce on hand in order to support a healthy diet.


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References


Ellis E. Fresh, Canned or Frozen: Get the Most from Your Fruits and Vegetables. Eatright.org. Published March 30, 2020.


Ellis E. Frozen Foods: Convenient and Nutritious. Eatright.org. Published April 28, 2020.


Mortenson K. The Advantages & Disadvantages of Fresh Vegetables. Livestrong.com. Accessed October 2021.


Produce for Better Health Foundation. About The Buzz: Frozen And Canned Fruits And Vegetables VS Fresh. Fruitsandveggies.org. Accessed October 2021.


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