Do Fruits Lose Their Food Nutrients When Frozen?

Frozen Strawberries
A pile of frozen strawberries in a bowl. (Image: Greg Miller/iStock/Getty Images)

The process of freezing fruit allows you to eat it at your own pace without worrying about wasting it. Additionally, freezing fruit enables you to consume fruit regardless of the season. When fruit is frozen, it is picked at peak ripeness. As a whole, the nutrient content is not negatively impacted by this process, which can even preserve some specific nutrients better than fresh options.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

When you flash-freeze fruit, the process can retain water-soluble vitamins like B vitamins and vitamin C. A study published in 2010 in the journal of "Food Composition and Analysis" demonstrated that frozen clementines retain all of their original vitamin C content. These water-soluble vitamins are fragile, however, and may be affected by freezing depending on the variety. Freezing strawberries can cause a 23-milligram loss of vitamin C compared to fresh strawberries. In general, this reduction will not have a negative impact on your health.

Added Sugar

The biggest issue you need to be aware of with frozen fruit is the process of adding sugar. Fruits like cherries, strawberries and peaches may contain added sugar. A cup of frozen blueberries with added sugar may contain more than twice as many calories as nonsweetened, frozen varieties -- 186 compared with 79 calories. The naturally occurring sugar in frozen fruit is fine, due to the fruit's fiber content, which helps limit the impact it has on your blood sugar. When you purchase frozen fruit, check the ingredients label to ensure that it lists just the name of the fruit and nothing else.

Phytonutrients

Frozen fruits can offer the same beneficial plant nutrients -- called phytonutrients -- offered in fresh varieties. Phytonutrients such as anthocyanins, the purple-and-red pigments found in blueberries and cherries, are preserved with freezing. Eating fruits containing anthocyanins can help to decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease. A study published in 2007 in the "Journal of Food Science" demonstrated that freezing can have an impact on the amount of beta carotene in fruit, although this degradation will not have an impact on your overall well-being.

Incorporating Frozen Fruit Into Your Diet

The easiest way to incorporate frozen fruit into your diet is through fruit smoothies. When you use frozen fruit in your smoothies, replace the amount of ice you normally add. You can also freeze bananas without the peels and use them as a healthy replacement for ice cream. Additionally, add frozen blueberries to yogurt to provide a thick ice cream consistency and sweet flavor.

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