WE are always told that one of the best ways to stay healthy is to eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
But tests have shown the ‘fresh is best’ mantra may not be true after all – and that frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables are just as nutritious.
Scientists examined vitamin C levels in raspberries, pineapples, sweetcorn, carrots and peas – and found little difference between fresh or frozen.
In some cases, frozen varieties actually contained higher levels of the vitamin.
Of all the samples, it was frozen raspberries and peas which had the highest levels, while fresh raspberries had the least.
There was barely any difference between frozen and fresh pineapple for levels of the vitamin – but both had more than tinned. This was also the case with carrots.
For sweetcorn, the fresh pack had the most but the tinned variety had more than the frozen.
The reason for the results is that often fresh produce has been transported long distances and left sitting around in warehouses and on supermarket shelves for long periods. In some cases, apparently fresh apples and potatoes could have been harvested as long as a year previously and then held in low-oxygen fridges to effectively halt the ripening and spoiling process.
The micronutrients that are found in the fruit and veg when it is freshly picked gradually degrade. But when the same produce is frozen or tinned quickly, these beneficial vitamins and minerals can be captured.
The tests were carried out by academics at the University of Chester for the new BBC One series of Food: Truth or Scare.
Nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed said: ‘You can get a lot of nutrients when you are buying frozen or tinned products.
‘For me as a nutritionist it is about how we can get fruit and vegetables into people’s diets. If that is frozen because it cheaper and more convenient, that is a winning situation.’