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Fresh or Frozen Vegetables - Which are Better for You?

Renuka Savant
Nothing compares to the deliciousness of fresh, crunchy vegetables. Nutrition-wise, they are considered to be unmatched as well... until now. Frozen veggies today seem to be packing quite a punch too. Don't believe it?
Think of anything in terms of preparing a good meal, let's say a creamy, fragrant vegetable risotto, and an immediate response is that it all depends on the freshness of the ingredients. And that points to the vegetables, of course.
But imagine for a minute that all you've got, are packs of frozen veggies in your freezer, waiting to be opened only in the impending winter. Why rely on frozen food when you can consume fresh, isn't it?
Well, not really, if you are to believe what the science guys are now trying to tell us. No, this isn't another article based on a study that will refute whatever was believed so far, only to be reversed a few months down the line. You may choose to buy frozen veggies, or stick to eating fresh; this is just a study that compares the nutritive value of both.
The storing of vegetables and style of cooking also largely influence the nutritive factor, so the choice ultimately remains yours.

Fresh vs. Frozen: Let the debate begin

When vegetables and fruits are picked to be frozen, they are selected at a stage when they are most ripe. This is considered to be the stage when the veggies and fruit are at their nutritious best - unlike fresh vegetables in your supermarket that are picked before they attain their ripest stage, so as to prevent them from spoiling faster.
Now, what this does is that it deprives the veggies of the natural ripening process, which enhances the nutrient value.

So how does this prove that frozen veggies are better?

You'll have to understand the freezing procedure to understand this.
❖ As mentioned before, the veggies to be frozen are picked at their ripest best, never before. This is the stage when they are power-packed with nutrients.
❖ Now, these are blanched or steamed to get rid of bacteria and any chemical residues.
❖ These are then flash-frozen, keeping a whole lot of nutrients intact.

Isn't there a "conditions apply" clause here?

Well, just the one. The blanching process rids the vegetables of water-soluble vitamins, B and C. But otherwise, most other nutrients remain safely in place.
Fresh vegetables are plucked before they attain their most nutritive state, and come what may, they can never reach the max. Their outward appearance may look enticingly ripe, but they aren't in the actual.
Some of you may complain about the rubbery texture of frozen veggies, case in point - broccoli, cauliflower or carrots. As mentioned before, there's hardly anything that matches the crunch of fresh produce, and there's nothing that can be done about it.

So, what's the verdict?

Let us consider the practical aspect first. Come winters, and the fresh stock begins to dwindle on our supermarket shelves. Frozen veggies, which were until now considered to be a paltry substitute during the colder months, doesn't have to be a matter of force.
It is now a matter of choice, since you no longer have to express concern or complain about the nutrition content in frozen vegetables.

But frozen veggies taste so blah!

Agreed. But here are some tips that will, perhaps not make them taste heavenly, but we're going for palatable.

❖ Steaming frozen veggies is the best way to cook them, if you're looking to retain maximum nutrients. A quick stir fry is also an option.
❖ They tend to soften super fast, so don't keep cooking them for long, unless you like them mushy.
❖ Brussels sprouts, asparagus, lima beans are a few vegetables that are not-so-yummy to taste in their frozen form. Similarly, you may have a few frozen ones of your choice that you just can't down; refrain from buying them.
So there you have it. Going frozen or fresh is ultimately a matter of personal choice. But the next time you reach out for a pack of frozen veggies, do so out of choice, not out of a lack of choice.