Yes, you read that right! Drop everything you’re doing, scramble to the grocery store, fill your cart with frozen produce and then stock your freezer! (Okay, maybe you don’t need to rush to the grocery store this very instant. If you need to go tomorrow, I’ll allow it.)
Right now, you’re probably thinking I’m nuts (likely, for more reasons than one). After all, frozen produce is not as healthy as fresh, right? If we can afford it, shouldn’t we always buy fresh, not frozen?
Like you, I was a skeptical naysayer…until I listened to the mindbodygreen podcast episode with guest Rachel Drori, founder of Daily Harvest. In the episode, she explains that frozen fruits and vegetables are not just decent to eat; they’re actually more nutrient-dense and often fresher than their “fresh” competitors. But…
WHY are frozen vegetables more nutrient-dense and often fresher?
Because fruits and vegetables are frozen immediately after they’re harvested; this process maintains their nutrient density and preserves their freshness. The second you thaw and/or cook them, you get to benefit from all of their nutrients! Consider these examples from Daily Harvest’s website:
- Blueberries have 200% more vitamin C when frozen vs fresh after 3 days.
- Cauliflower has 50% more antioxidants frozen vs fresh after 3 days.
- Spinach has 25% more vitamin E frozen vs fresh after 3 days.
If you consider the fact that most of the produce in grocery stores is out-of-season, the lack of nutrients is compounded. For example, if you buy blueberries in North America when they’re in season (April to late September), they may only be 3-5 days old. (Still, not ideal. Also, they may have taken a plane flight to arrive in your store, so they could be older than that.) If you buy blueberries when they’re out of season (October to March), they may be several days or even weeks old (as much of the out-of-season produce in grocery stores often is). We purchase fruits and vegetables for their nutrient density, but how many vitamins and nutrients do week-old blueberries actually have? Not many at all.
What About Farmer’s Markets?
As with most things, there is a caveat. If you buy organic, in-season fruits and vegetables from your local farmer’s market and consume them as quickly as possible, you will likely reap all of the nutrient benefits from that fresh produce. Also, you could freeze your own farmer’s market fruits and veggies! However, done properly, this is a somewhat complicated and time-consuming process.
Other Pro-frozen Produce Considerations:
- Convenience. In his new book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?—a fabulous, easily digestible (pun intended!) read, by the way–Dr. Mark Hyman ascertains that 3/4 of your plate at every meal should consist of veggies. This translates to: “We need to be eating a lot more veggies!” If you keep your freezer stocked with frozen vegetables, it’s much easier to hit this healthy quota, especially after a long workday when you’re in the market for a quick and easy meal. (So…every day for me!)
- Cost. Somehow, frozen fruits veggies are more nutrient-dense and more cost-effective! It’s a win-win! Be sure not to get too crazy with cost efficiency, though. Always prioritize organic frozen produce in the same way that you prioritize organic fresh produce.
Bottom line: Purchasing any produce (especially vegetables!)–fresh or frozen–is a step in the right direction, but it’s time to reshape our thinking about frozen vegetables. Instead of shunning them for unsound reasons, stock up on these nutrient-dense, convenient, and cost-effective alternatives!
Have you ever considered the fact that frozen produce is just as healthy–if not healthier!–as fresh? Do you plan to buy more frozen fruits and veggies in the future? Please share any and all of your thoughts on this topic!
In each blog post, I aim to bring you food for thought (pun intended. Note: my day job is teaching English), but don’t take my word for it! Click on and read all of the links above to become your own expert on this topic; knowledge is power. The more you know and understand the “why” behind each biohack, the easier it will be to stick to it and realize you can’t live without it!
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