Berries may be small, but they pack a lot of nutrition into one little package. A cup of blueberries provides 14% of your daily fiber intake, plus a dose of heart-healthy antioxidants. Raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are all an excellent source of vitamin C. With a cup of berries clocking in at less than 100 calories, they’re good for your waistline too. And did I mention they taste fantastic? Fresh berries eaten right after picking are going to give the highest amount of nutrients. Unfortunately, most of us today are not easily able to find or grow fresh-picked berries. In this case, the next best choice is frozen. While frozen foods often get a bad rap for being highly processed and low in nutritional value, the truth is you can find some of the healthiest foods in the freezer section (berries included). Here are five things you may not have known about frozen berries.
- There is no nutritional difference between fresh and frozen berries. The FDA declared this back in 1998, and multiple studies have shown the same thing: freshly picked and frozen berries all contain similar amounts of nutrients. Berries are frozen within hours of being picked using fast-freezing technology which preserves much of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The low temperatures help ensure that enzymatic activity doesn’t destroy even the most sensitive of nutrients, such as vitamin C.
- In fact, frozen berries may be more nutritious than fresh. The minute a berry is picked, it begins to lose nutrients, so how long after harvesting you eat it impacts its nutritional value. Most berries in our supermarkets have been transported a long distance over a lengthy period, and may contain less than 50% of the original nutrient content. On the other hand, berries frozen right after harvest preserve almost of their vitamins and antioxidants and last up to one or two years.
- Frozen berries tend to be cheaper than fresh. Unless you live in a temperate climate with a year-round growing season, fresh berry prices climb once you get outside their harvesting season. Frozen berries are a cheaper alternative available year round. Plus, since the freezing process keeps berries fresh for months on end, you won’t be wasting money on fresh produce going bad in your fridge.
- They are a quick and easy shortcut. I frequent my local farmers markets, and am a big fan of fresh, in-season berries, but I often get home and wish for something that didn’t require any prep time. Enter frozen berries. They don’t need washing or chopping, making them a simple addition to your meal (no cleanup required!). Add them directly to smoothies, muffin batter, and yogurt parfaits, or warm them up and stir into oatmeal or spread onto peanut butter toast as a simple jam.
- They’re additive-free. Since freezing preserves food, no additives are needed to keep frozen berries safe and fresh. It’s incredibly easy to find frozen berries with just a single word ingredient list – just the pure, nutrient-rich berry itself.
For more frozen berry inspiration check out these recipes:
- Frozen Blackberry Sparkler
- Strawberry Rhubarb Breakfast Crisp
- Whole-wheat waffles with blueberry thyme compote
- Raspberry Rooibos and Green Tea Smoothie
Share your favorite ways to use berries in the comment section or with us on Twitter @Luvoinc.