Nutrition Boosters for Fruit and Veggies

I’ve been rather tired these last few weeks.  Could be some of the things going on at work however searching the net I found some interesting articles and info. I already knew that fruit and veggies are good for you but I always asked myself if fresh fruit and veggies have more vitamins, minerals and phytochemical then the frozen fruit and veggies, after all frozen fruit and veggies are cheaper and don’t spoil within a matter of days.

Fresh fruit and veggies come packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Or do they? Turns out it might depend on how you treat them. And no doubt you’ve wondered if you could be doing your produce pals some kind of disservice in the journey from the grocery store to your stomach.

Does microwaving really zap vitamins and minerals? Is it better to buy fresh instead of frozen? Is your body able to absorb all the good-for-you nutrition, anyway?

Here are a few simple steps to help you get the most from your produce-packed meals.

Fresh vs. Frozen

Q. I’ve always thought fresh is best when it comes to fruit and vegetables, but now my daughter tells me frozen foods have more nutrients. Who’s right?

A. You’re both right. It’s true that fresh fruit and vegetables tend to taste better and have more nutritional value than frozen or canned. But that’s not always the case.

Fresh is best when it really is farm-fresh and ripe. But many commercial fruits and veggies are picked before peak ripeness — which also means before their nutritional peak — to avoid spoilage during transport and storage. And just a few days after harvest, fruits and vegetables begin to lose some of their nutritive goodness. What’s more, the longer they sit on the shelf — during transport, in the supermarket, and in your fridge — the fewer nutrients they have left to pass on to you.

On the other hand, vegetables and fruit intended for freezing are usually picked closer to the peak of ripeness and are flash-frozen immediately after harvest. The processing does deplete some nutrients, but it locks in the rest for up to 12 months. So in some instances, frozen fruit and veggies may actually have more of the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

Quick Tip: To help retain the highest levels of vitamin C, don’t thaw frozen veggies before cooking. Studies show that vegetables cooked directly from frozen retain more vitamin C than vegetables that are thawed first.

For nutrient-rich fresh fruit and veggies, buy what’s in season and grown locally. And eat it within a few days of purchase. Find your local farmers market with this list from the USDA.

To Microwave or Not to Microwave

Q. Does microwaving really zap all the vitamins and minerals from vegetables? If so, what’s the best way to cook them?

A. The jury’s still out on this one. Although some studies suggest the microwave is to blame for sucking nutrients out of food, others point a finger at the water in which they are cooked.

For most vegetables and fruit, any type of cooking lowers the nutrient content. So for now, a good rule of thumb is: Less is more.

  • Leave skin on whenever possible. Many fruits and vegetables hold most of their antioxidants in their skins. Simply wash well before cooking/eating.
  • Lightly steam vegetables instead of boiling, sauteing, or roasting. Better yet, go raw with a fresh salad.
  • If you prefer to blanch your veggies, dip them into boiling water for the least amount of time possible.

The exception is the red tomato. Cooking actually increases its level of lycopene — an antioxidant thought to help prevent certain types of cancer, heart disease, and vision loss.

Quick Tip: Drizzle your vegetables with a bit of olive oil to help your body better absorb the vitamins and minerals.