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Fresh Or Frozen? Eat Fruit & Vegetables Any Way You Can

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Fresh fruit and vegetables are tempting this time of year, but sometimes fresh is not an option. In that case, is frozen or canned a healthy alternative?

Food does not get much fresher than what is available at local farmer's markets.

If you are looking to eat healthy, is fresh really best?"

"Fresh is better, canned is quicker," shopper Katherine Blanton said.

"I grew up in the country, so to speak -- rural North Carolina. So I definitely know the difference and I prefer fresh any day," shopper Betsy Phillips said.

Fresh has many meanings.

Fruits and vegetables at farmer's markets and roadside stands are usually just out of the ground. Fresh produce at the grocery store may be several days old.

"The longer fresh produce is exposed to air and to light, the greater the nutrient loss," WRAL Health Team Nutritionist Lynn Hoggard said.

Hoggard says sometimes frozen is a better choice.

"With frozen produce, it's taken from the field and immediately it's cleaned and frozen. So you maintain the maximum nutrients," she said.

It is also a myth that canned fruits and vegetables are inferior. They are just as high in vitamins. Just look for brands with the least amount of salt or sugar.

"Whatever style you choose them in -- fresh, frozen, canned -- what is important is that we eat them," Hoggard said.

Here is some advice to get the most out of your purchase:

  • When buying frozen fruits or vegetables, make sure they are not clumped together -- the products should move freely.
  • Avoid boxed frozen fruits or vegetables with colored stains. These are signs that thawing and refreezing have taken place which could rob it of nutrients.
  • Use frozen vegetables within six months of purchase and most canned vegetables within two years.
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