The invention of refrigeration has greatly contributed to facilitating access to fruits and vegetables throughout the year, and at the same time benefiting from their active ingredients and molecules that are good for our health.
Freezing is even more effective than refrigeration for food preservation, because the very low temperatures greatly reduce the rate of enzymatic reactions involved in the degradation of biological tissues, and the crystallization of water deprives bacteria of the solvent necessary for their growth. growth. When the fruit or vegetable is frozen shortly after picking, its nutrient content is therefore much more representative of fresh vegetables than when these same fruits and vegetables spend a lot of time on the shelves. However, frozen fruits and vegetables still have a bad reputation today and some people believe, wrongly, that it is better to deprive yourself of vegetables than to eat them in frozen form.
The vitamin content of food is protected during freezing
Two studies illustrate how wrong this perception is and that frozen fruits and vegetables are completely adequate foods in terms of vitamin, mineral and phytochemical content. In one of these studies, scientists compared the vitamin content of fruits (blueberries, strawberries) and vegetables (spinach, carrots, broccoli, peas, beans and corn) stored in the fridge or frozen. They first observed that, contrary to popular belief, vitamin C was much better preserved in frozen foods than in those kept in the fridge. A similar phenomenon is observed for vitamin E, which is much more abundant in the frozen form of most of the foods studied. The vitamin content of frozen vegetables is therefore excellent, often even higher than that of products stored in the refrigerator.
The same team examined in parallel the variations in the composition of minerals, fibers and phytochemicals (phenolics) of frozen or refrigerated plants. The amounts of calcium, zinc or copper were not affected by freezing. The dietary fiber content, meanwhile, did not show significant differences, as did that of phenolic compounds. Interestingly, frozen blueberries contain a higher amount of these phenolic compounds, an interesting characteristic since several studies indicate that these molecules play a key role in the anti-cancer properties of these berries.
Fresh or frozen, the main thing is to eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible
We obviously have to count on the coming summer season to take advantage of the fresh fruits and vegetables that will soon invade our markets. On the other hand, after the summer, when these plants are not available or are too expensive, frozen fruits and vegetables are an excellent alternative to take advantage of the benefits of these foods. Whether grown conventionally or organically, kept fresh or frozen: what matters is first and foremost to eat them as often as possible.
Bouzari A et al. Vitamin retention in eight fruits and vegetables: a comparison of refrigerated and frozen storage. J Agric Food Chem,; 63: 957-62.
Bouzari A et al. Mineral, fiber, and total phenolic retention in eight fruits and vegetables: a comparison of refrigerated and frozen storage. J Agric Food Chem, 63: 951-6.