A closer look at the differences between consuming fresh and frozen fruits

By Joyce Reyes-Aguila |Photo by Devin Rajaram/Unsplash

What’s healthier: drinking cold or hot water? Some experts believe that drinking hot water helps promote better digestion while tightening the intestines. The case for cold water differs. Some say the cooling process diminishes water’s natural mineral content; others swear that it allows the body to exercise longer without needing to rehydrate often. The verdict on drinking hot versus cold is still out.

But what about fruits? Do you enjoy them better when fresh or frozen? And does your preference hinge on health-related reasons?

In response to a reader’s question, The New York Times writer Roni Caryn Rabin, shared findings of a study made by Dr. Ali Bouzari of Pilot R+D, a California-based culinary research and development company. Rabin revealed that “though vitamins can degrade in fresh fruits and vegetables over time, many nutrients in foods are much [more hardy] than most people assume.” Iron, the doctor says, is not affected by temperature. He and his team looked at the vitamin content of eight fruits and vegetables and “found no consistent differences overall between fresh and frozen [produce].” Their findings suggest that differences in the nutrient levels of fresh and frozen fruits are minimal, like the impact on a person’s overall health.

Though vitamins can degrade in fresh fruits and vegetables over time, many nutrients in foods are much [more hardy] than most people assume

Dr. Rosemarie Arambulo Bejar, a physician at the Development Bank of the Philippines, agrees with Dr. Bouzari. “Whether they are freshly picked at the farm and eaten or freshly picked and frozen, the nutritional content is retained and is therefore the same,” she insists. “But there’s a handling issue in fresh fruits. They may be exposed to heat or other elements while being transported from the farm to the market. Therefore, the fruit may dry up and the vitamin and mineral content may deteriorate.” If fruit is frozen beyond its shelf life, the nutritional content may also lessen, Dr. Bejar adds.

Fresh berries were featured as a unique case by the same The New York Times section, Ask Well. In a study conducted by the Plants for Human Health Institute of the North Carolina State University, director Mary Ann Lila says that fresh berries can lose nutrients if not eaten right away. In addition, freezing in a fridge that is continuously open and shut will only deteriorate its nutritional content. For fresh berries and other fruits, Lila suggests storing them at the very back of your freezer and to check fruits tagged as “individually quick frozen” (IQF) when grocery shopping.

Whether they are freshly picked at the farm and eaten or freshly picked and frozen, the nutritional content is retained and is therefore the same. But there’s a handling issue in fresh fruits. They may be exposed to heat or other elements while being transported from the farm to the market

IQF means that a fruit should be frozen separate from others. According to culinary arts expert Danilo Alfaro of expert advice website aboutfood.com, strawberries, blueberries, and peaches fall under the IQF category.

Always keep in mind that fruit sellers consider the length of time to transport fruits after they are picked. If you purchase fresh produce that isn’t ripe yet, know how to handle them with care so you can maximize their nutritional benefits. Wash fruits well to remove any pesticide residue and examine their physical state. Dry them with a paper towel to rid it of any bacteria that may still be present. If you are slicing fruits and storing them to snack on later, store them in air-tight containers inside your fridge.

Whether you prefer fruits frozen or fresh, the most important thing is that you make them part of your regular diet. Consult your doctor on what fruits are ideal for your diet, especially if you are diabetic or need to focus on adding specific nutrients to your body.