Monday, 1 February 2010

Does Refrigeration Preserve Nutrients Of Fresh Produce?

The claim: Refrigeration preserves the nutrients of fruits and vegetables.

The facts: Consumers may not realize that many fruits and vegetables experience rapid losses in their nutritional value when stored for more than a few days.

In part, that is because the produce has usually already spent days in transport and on shelves before a consumer buys it, said Barbara Klein, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Once they hit the refrigerator, Prof Klein added, some fruits and vegetables can lose as much as 50 percent of their vitamin C and other nutrients in the ensuing week, depending on the temperature.

However, there are several ways around this. One, look for fresh produce that is locally grown – it has usually travelled shorter distances and is still near its nutritional peak – and try not to stock up on more than one week’s supple.

Another option is to buy frozen produce. While frozen fruits and vegetables may lack the flavour and aesthetic appeal of fresh produce, they are subjected to flash freezing immediately after being picked. That can slow or halt the loss of vitamins and nutrients.

The bottom line: Refrigerating produce does not prevent the loss of its nutrients.

- The New York Times 

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