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Why Buying Frozen Produce Doesn't Sacrifice Nutrition

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Should you buy your fruits and veggies frozen? This question's been debated many times over, with studies that have disproven the working assumption that fresh produce beats its frozen analog. Yet there are still those who remain skeptical.

The results of yet another study in the upcoming June issue of the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, though, give further credence to the claim that frozen fruits and veggies can be as desirable as those we store in the fridge.

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How to Cook with Frozen Vegetables
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How to Cook with Frozen Vegetables

This particular study was conducted over the course of two years by researchers at the University of Georgia, funded by the Frozen Food Foundation, a non-profit that, let's be clear, has an obvious vested interest in singing the praises of frozen foods. Yet the results are pretty even-keeled. Researchers took various foodstuffs—broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, green beans, green peas, spinach, blueberries, strawberries—and analyzed the presence of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folate. They conducted this analysis for three different storage forms: on the day of purchase, frozen, and "fresh-stored," a classification that refers to food that's stored in the fridge for five days, mimicking typical consumer habits.

The findings? There's usually little statistically-significant variance in the nutrients concentration between the three treatments. When there are differences, though, frozen produce beat their fresh-stored analogs in nutrient retention—more often than not.

Gnocchi Verde, or The Redemption of Frozen Spinach
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Gnocchi Verde, or The Redemption of Frozen Spinach

"In the cases of significant differences, there was a generally consistent observation of five days of refrigerated storage having a negative association with nutrient concentration," the researchers write. Green beans have less Vitamin C when they're fresh-stored than when they're bought from freezers; frozen corn has more beta carotene than when it's fresh-stored. I should note that there are exceptions here and there—for example, the finding that beta carotene in frozen broccoli was lower than that of its fresh and fresh-stored analogs—but they're few and far between. These results are heartening for those of us who gravitate to our bags of frozen vegetables and fruits, be they for a stir-fry or smoothie. We are affirmed!

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Do you buy your fruits and vegetables frozen? Let us know in the comments.