Not always. Fresh fruit and vegetables, if not stored properly, may lose their nutrients fairly quickly.
But if frozen quickly after harvest and stored properly, a significant amount of their nutrients can be retained for up to a year, said nutritionist Benjamin Lee and dietitian Chelsea Chang from Health Promotion Board (HPB).
Phytochemicals, antioxidants that are found in fruit and vegetables, can sometimes be more abundant in processed food. Heat applied during the canning process, for instance, can increase the levels of lycopene, which is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer, they said.
In general, you won’t find any less phytochemicals in frozen and canned food, compared to fresh ones.
Frozen or canned products can be a good way to stock up on fruit and vegetables at home to meet your daily recommended intake (two servings of each), especially if you are too busy to buy fresh varieties regularly, said Mr Lee and Ms Chang.
Do note, however, that canned food usually contain lower amounts of heat-sensitive nutrients, such as vitamin C. Canned fruit also tend to contain sugar syrup, while canned vegetables are preserved with brine. Therefore, look for items that are lower in salt or contains light syrup or natural juice.
Text by Mind & Body, Straits Times. Image: ST File