Is Fresh Fruit Really Better than the Frozen One?
Fruit is the richest source of vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin C, vitamin E, water, fiber, beta-carotene, folate, potassium, selenium, calcium and phytonutrients. Adding fruit to our meal is good to maintain our health. Consuming fruit everyday is necessary to avoid inflammation, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, even cancer. Therefore, people are not reluctant to spend more money to buy fresh or frozen fruit. However, people still argue about the quality of frozen fruit compared to the fresh ones.
Frozen fruit is an effective product of fruit preservation. It is easier to store and sell. Thus, frozen fruit can easily be found in any grocery stores and supermarkets. Freezing the fruit becomes the popular way of preservation because it keeps the fruit from decay effectively. The low temperature reduces the rapid grow of bacteria and pathogens which spoil the fruit. By preserving it naturally, the fruit even can be kept up to one year in the fridge. Besides can be kept in long periods of time, frozen fruit can be transferred and distributed over long distances. Since the price of frozen fruit is cheaper than that of the fresh one, many people prefer to buy it. Considering the price and the nutrition, buying frozen fruit is considered more economical and efficient.
Nutrition facts in fresh vs frozen fruit
People love to buy fresh fruit because it is nutritious and fibrous. Fresh fruit also has the natural fruit flavor. However, there is also a probability if frozen fruit is more nutritious than the fresh one. When fresh fruit is stored and transferred for a long time under the heat and light, its nutrition is ruined. The high exposure to heat and light reduces the amount of vitamins B and C. Unlike fresh fruit, frozen fruit is processed right away after being picked. This preserves the nutrition until it is consumed.
Fruit which is prepared for being frozen will be harvested when at its ripeness peak. The nutrition will be preserved through the freezing process allowing people to get the remaining nutritional value. Otherwise, fresh fruit is harvested several days earlier before it yet ripe. After the harvest, fresh fruit spends a lot of time being stored and transported. During the period, the nutrition decreases and the microorganisms may grow.
If the fruit is frozen, the nutritional value in it remains the same since the low temperature does not affect the nutritional. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in 1998 that the amount of nutrients in frozen fruit is equal to the amount in fresh fruits. The nutrients preservation in frozen fruit itself depends on the process to freeze the fruit. Frozen fruit is also considered chemical free since the natural freezing process does not require any preservatives. The low temperature is quite effective to decrease microorganisms grow.
The good freezing process
The fruit freezing process requires two steps. The first step is blanching. In blanching process, the fruit is cut into pieces and dipped into hot boiling water for a short period of time. It aims to deactivate the enzymes to keep the quality. Deactivating the enzymes prevents the fruit lose its color, change its flavor, and reduce its nutrient value. It also kills bacteria which cause the fruit spoiled. After the fruit is blanched, it is submerged in cold water to help it loses its temperature to prevent the fruit from cooking. Then, freeze the fruit in the fridge.
Degradation of frozen fruit
Some frozen fruit products have added sugar to enrich the flavor. If you are not careful, you will add more calories to your body. This condition may result in obesity. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to the ingredient label on the wrappings.
Wrong freezing process causes vitamin loss. Water-soluble vitamins, like vitamin B and vitamin C will be significantly degraded when it is heated. If the blanching process takes a longer time, it reduces the amount of the vitamins in it. Compared to any other vitamins, vitamin C is lost in a higher concentration. The fruit loses 10% of vitamin C during the usual blanching process. When the blanching process takes overtime, the vitamin C loss can reach 50% during the process.
Vitamin B1 or Thiamin concentration in fruit is easily degraded by heat. When the fruit is heated, 25% of this vitamin will be reduced from the total concentration. Since it is degradable, 25% vitamin loss is still normal.
Freezing the fruit also results in texture loss. Even though it does not affect the nutritional value, it still affects the quality. The factor which causes texture loss is the very high amount of water content. When the fruit is frozen, the water inside the cells increases and the wall of the cells perforate.
How to keep the quality of fresh and frozen fruit?
It does not really matter to choose the fresh or the frozen fruit. All of them are equally nutritious. People who prefer the practicality tend to buy the frozen fruit, while those who love the taste prefer to buy the fresh one. The most important thing is you need to use both frozen fruit vs fresh fruit as soon as possible after you buy them from the store. If you keep them for a long time, they will lose more nutrients.