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Food is most nutritious at the point of harvest. After that, fresh produce starts degrading.
Once picked, that fruit or veg is using its own nutrients to keep its cells alive. Vitamin C found in produce is also sensitive to oxygen and light.
Refrigeration slows down the process of nutrition degradation. The nutritional loss varies from product to product.
Spinach loses 100% of its vitamin C content in seven days at room temperature and 75% if refrigerated. Carrots lose 27% of their vitamin C content when stored at room temperature for a week.
However, when vegetables are frozen, including spinach, they lose significantly less vitamin C, because freezing pauses the process of oxidization.
As soon as produce is harvested, it's a nutritional race against time.
Frozen produce has one problem: before it's frozen, it's blanched - heating food up for a few minutes at high temperatures to inactivate enzymes that degrade texture and color. Blanching also reduces nutrient content.
Tinned food uses a more intense heat treatment that decreases the nutrients more than frozen food. But nutrients in different kinds of produce degrade at different rates.
Although canned foods result in greater nutrient loss, it can be stable for years.
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