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Frozen, fresh or canned food: What's more nutritious?

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200427-frozen-fresh-or-canned-food-whats-more-nutritious

bbc.com

Frozen, fresh or canned food: What's more nutritious?
In recent weeks, as shoppers have looked to stock up on food that lasts, sales of canned and frozen food have surged. Even freezer sales are up. But many of us are taught to believe that when it comes to fruit and vegetables, nothing is as nutritious as fresh produce.

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Fresh food nutrients

Fresh food nutrients

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.

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Refrigerating produce

Refrigerating produce

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.

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Frozen foods nutrients

Frozen foods nutrients

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.

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Canned foods

Canned foods

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.

  • Foods with mostly water-soluble nutrients, including Vitamin C and B, are highly sensitive to heat and are better fresh.
  • Foods with mostly fat-soluble nutrients, like vitamin E and A, faired much better during heat treatment. Foods include carrots and tomatoes.

Although canned foods result in greater nutrient loss, it can be stable for years.

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