Produce: Fresh vs. Frozen
There’s no question that when you’re eating and cooking paleo recipes, using fresh, organic produce is ideal, but this may not always be an option. Frozen options are often more convenient and less expensive than their fresh counterparts. The question then becomes, am I sacrificing nutritional value by using frozen produce?
Overall, eating fruits and vegetables in any form is better than eating none, particularly when you’re following a paleo diet and fruits and vegetables are such a vital part of the food you consume. Some frozen produce may actually have more nutrients than fresh versions, because produce chosen for freezing is usually picked at peak ripeness, which is when it’s the most nutrient-packed. Produce that is shipped fresh to supermarkets is generally picked before it reaches an optimal level of ripeness. Fresh produce is also exposed to a great deal of heat and light during the shipping process, which can lead to a loss of some vitamins and nutrients. With this being said, produce does lose some nutrients and water-soluble vitamin content during the blanching process, which is the first step of the freezing process, however it is relatively minimal.
Canned fruits and vegetables are another option, which are often the most economical, but canned produce often loses a great deal of its nutritional value during the preservation process. Canned foods are also often suspended in solutions either loaded in salt or sugar, which is not an ideal paleo option.
Produce purchased at a local farmer’s market is the best choice for produce, because it has a limited amount of time from the farm to your table, which allows for the retention of the most vitamins and nutrients. Purchasing at a farmer’s market also ensures you’re selecting the freshest of the in-season produce that’s available in your area.
If a farmer’s market is not an option for you, when selecting produce in the supermarket, that is in-season, it is best to purchase fresh options, when possible. For off-season fruits and vegetables, the frozen option may be best. If you do select frozen fruits and vegetables, like canned produce, they can contain additives that are not paleo-friendly. Frozen produce can contain sodium, preservatives and various sauces, so checking the label will ensure you’re not selecting produce that isn’t suitable for a paleo lifestyle. Organic is also still an option when opting for frozen produce, so if do have to go for pre-packaged produce, go organic, when possible.