Healthy hints

Photo illustration by Joel McCarthy.
Photo illustration by Joel McCarthy.

Don’t get fresh with me

By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer

Hypothetical situation: you’re in the grocery store in search of fruit. Bypassing the frozen goods section, you head right on over to the fresh produce, fill a couple bags, and then head home confident that you’ve made the most nutritious decision. But have you?

The fresh fruit you find in stores isn’t quite as fresh as you think. Store fruit is typically picked before it’s fully ripened, so as to minimize bruising and general deterioration during shipping and maximize appearance. In addition to this, depending how far the source is from the store, fruit can take up to two weeks to hit the shelves, due to travel and stocking time. And, of course, it doesn’t all get sold at once, so some products will sit around for even longer, all the while being exposed to light, heat, and unwashed hands. Ain’t that just peachy?

By comparison, the process for frozen fruit looks great. The fruit is picked at its peak ripeness, sterilized, and then immediately frozen. One downside is that nutrients can be lost during the sterilizing process known as blanching, whereby the produce is submerged in boiling water for a short time. Nutrients can also be lost when you thaw and reheat the fruit. However, that won’t be a factor if you plan to use the fruit in smoothies.

Studies by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) over the years have shown that the nutritional value of fresh and frozen fruits is about the same. So next time you’re in a store, know that you have choices.