Home Delivered Meals:
Are Fresh, Chilled Meals Healthier than Frozen?
People sometimes assume that fresh, chilled meals are a healthier choice than frozen meals. The assumption is chilled meals aren’t as processed and the fresh produce is more nutritious. However, this is only true if the meal goes from the farm to the table in a very short amount of time. Many studies have compared the nutritional content of fresh vs. frozen foods and have found that frozen food has the same, if not better, nutritional value as fresh, chilled foods.
Here are the cold, hard facts:
- Frozen produce is not harvested until fully ripened.
Fresh produce is harvested before reaching peak ripeness, so it can ripen during transportation and storage. This means nutrients do not develop to full potential. However, frozen produce is allowed to ripen before being picked. The mature fruits and vegetables contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- The quick-freeze process locks in the high levels of nutrients.
Once a fruit or vegetable is picked, it begins to lose nutrients immediately. Since most fresh produce travels long distances to chilled meal manufacturers, much of the nutrient content is lost prior to preparation. Frozen foods are flash-frozen immediately after being harvested. This process assures there is minimal nutrient loss when processing the foods. This is true with both meats and produce.
- Nutrient content and food safety of frozen meals isn’t compromised during transit and storage.
Fresh, chilled meals are subjected to light and heat during transportation and storage, causing further nutrient loss. Chilled storage does not slow down this loss. Frozen foods can be transported and stored without compromising nutrient content or exposing the foods to dangerous temperature zones. Per Foodsafety.gov, frozen foods remain safe indefinitely.
Recently, two independent studies compared the nutrient level of fresh produce that was stored in a refrigerator for 3 days to frozen equivalents. They found more beneficial nutrients overall in the frozen samples. Chilled meals are refrigerated much longer than 3 days, meaning even more nutrient loss will be experienced than reported in the studies. A technical summary of the studies can be found here. Also, below is a short video that summarizes the findings of these studies.
Fresh vs. Frozen Home Delivered Meals... Frozen Wins!
GA Foods provides frozen meals to ensure quality is retained, not only in nutrients but also in food safety.