Frozen vegetables can be more nutritious than supposedly fresh supermarket produce, a study has found. Fresh vegetables can lose up to 45 per cent of important nutrients by the time they reach the dinner table.
Time spent in storage, in transportation and sitting on the shelves means it can be more than two weeks from the vegetables being picked to being eaten.
Goodness draining away: Green beans lose 45 per cent of nutrients in the 11 to 15 days it takes to reach the dinner table, while broccoli typically has a 25 per cent nutrient loss
By contrast, produce frozen close to the point of harvest maintains a higher level of many vitamins and nutrients. Eighty per cent of shoppers believe the fresh vegetables sold in supermarket are less than four days old.
Healthier for you: The frozen vegetable aisle in a supermarket
In reality, they can be up to nine days old when they arrive, and remain on the shelf for a further four.
Including the time these vegetables are stored at home before being eaten, these 'fresh' items can be more than 16 days old.
The study found that in these circumstances green beans can have lost up to 45 per cent of nutrients, broccoli and cauliflower 25 per cent, garden peas up to 15 per cent, and carrots up to 10 per cent.
The study on the loss of vitamins and nutrients was conducted by the Institute of Food Research on behalf of frozen food giant Birds Eye.
The key nutrients the vegetables contain are vitamin C and glucosinates, which are said to block the development of cancer.
Birds Eye claims its Field Fresh range of frozen garden peas contains up to 30 per cent more vitamin C than fresh equivalents, and its green beans contain up to 45 per cent more than fresh.
Nutritionist Dr Sarah Schenker said: 'The nutritional content of fresh vegetables begins to deteriorate from the minute they are picked.
'This means that by the time they end up on our plate, although we may think we're reaping the vegetable's full nutritional benefits, this is often not the case.'
The findings confirm a study published by researchers at the Centre for Food Innovation at Sheffield Hallam University, which found frozen products are not nutritionally inferior to fresh
Researcher Charlotte Harden said: 'We must disregard the mistaken view that "fresh" food is always better for us than frozen food. Frozen food can be nutritionally comparable or in some cases nutritionally superior.'
A spokesman for the British Frozen Food Federation said: 'Fast and organised methods of harvest-to-freeze have evolved which minimise loss of nutrients.
'In contrast, "fresh" food can spend up to a month in the chain of producers, wholesalers and retailers before it reaches customers.'