Fresh food may be what your granny advised, but perhaps it is time you gave a fair chance to frozen food.

When it comes to the fresh vs frozen food debate, things are somewhat clearer: frozen vegetables and fruit are as nutritionally beneficial as their fresh counterparts, say nutritionists. In fact, some frozen food may actually be more nutritious than it’s “fresh” counterparts.

Indians swear by fresh produce that is so easily and cheaply available in our local markets. But unless you have grown the produce in your own backyard, “fresh” is only a semi-accurate tag.

The issue with fresh food is that it is not entirely as fresh as the hawkers would have you believe. Food that appears “fresh” in our mandis and haats has typically spent several days and maybe weeks in transit and storage, where it loses some of its nutrients.

More nutrients retained

On the other hand, frozen food that has been snap-frozen, shortly after harvest, retains a higher percentage of antioxidants such as vitamin C, polyphenols, betacarotene and lutein. Antioxidants are the substances found in fresh fruits and vegetables, that delay or prevent cell damage.

So, they help us fight heart disease as well as cancer. Though some vitamin and B complex vitamins are lost in the freezing process, the good news is that mineral, fibre, carbohydrate, protein, and fat levels are similar in fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. The loss of fat soluble vitamin A, carotene and vitamin E is minimal too.

woman's hands harvesting fresh organic tomatoes in her garden on a sunny day. Farmer Picking Tomatoes. Vegetable Growing. Gardening concept

What you can do

Avoid storing market-bought fresh fruits and vegetables for long periods of time. Instead, opt for frozen foods like carrots and peas, proven to contain a higher level of nutrients.

Regardless of whether you purchase your food fresh or frozen, avoid over-cooking it which destroys vitamins. Opt for eating veggies raw, steamed, stir-fried. You could also try to grow your own food, or try to source fruits and vegetables from farms.

Remember that frozen meats and snacks/parathas aren’t as healthy as the fresh variety though. That’s because they contain partially hydrogenated palm oil with hidden, unhealthy trans-fats and a high sodium content.