El Centro, California (NAPSI) - As Americans strive to eat healthier and add more fruits and vegetables to their diets, a recently concluded “market basket” study has a simple message for consumers: think frozen.
In partnership with the Frozen Food Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering scientific research, public awareness and education regarding the nutritional value of frozen foods, the University of Georgia recently conducted a unique study comparing the nutrient content of eight commonly purchased frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables.
The study mimicked consumer purchasing and storage habits of blueberries, strawberries, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, green peas and spinach. To account for variables such as growing conditions, country of origin and time in the supply chain, composite samples were prepared from fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables purchased from six independent grocery stores.
Each fruit and vegetable was analyzed under three conditions: frozen; fresh (on the day of purchase); and fresh-stored (after five days of storage in a kitchen refrigerator). Americans may, on average, store perishable fruits and vegetables for up to five days or more, based on biweekly grocery shopping habits, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s “U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends.”
The study results reveal that the nutritional value of many frozen fruits and vegetables are generally equal to that of their fresh counterparts. In fact, the study found that the nutritional value—namely the amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C and folates—of some frozen fruits and vegetables is greater than that of fresh-stored produce. This determination likely owes itself to the nutrient degradation that occurs in fresh produce during storage.
“Our research shows that frozen fruits and vegetables are nutritionally equal to—and in some cases better than—their fresh counterparts,” said University of Georgia Associate Professor Dr. Ronald Pegg, who led the study. “In particular, vitamin A was greater in frozen fruits and vegetables than select fresh-stored fruits and vegetables.”
Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and frozen at their peak ripeness, locking in the nutrient value at the point of freezing.
“Frozen fruits and vegetables can play an important role in helping Americans easily add more fruits and vegetables to their diets to meet daily recommendations,” said Produce for Better Health Foundation President and CEO Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka. “Freezing is nature’s pause button. It is a natural and effective way to preserve food nutrition and quality.”
For more information, visit www.frozenfoodfacts.org.