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Fresh Vs Frozen Foods

INSHAPE NEWS OPINIONFresh Vs Frozen | © iStock

Nick Jack – CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach and Personal Trainer

Today’s modern world is so frantically fast-paced. Food companies have taken advantage of this by providing people with simple, quick prepacked solutions to ensure you can fit all of your activities in. The only problem is that this may be costly to health.

Frozen foods are very convenient. You can store them for a long time. You can then reheat them, as many are cooked, sliced and diced ready to be warmed and eaten. However, when a food is frozen, the cell walls of the food expand to a point where it breaks. The cell of the food contains all of your vitamins and minerals. This means that the food’s cells are now exposed to the surrounding environment, so when you come around to eating it, the food is somewhat dead with not much quality left within it. And just to top it off, usually these foods are then heated in a microwave oven, which wipes out anything that may have survived.

As I tell my clients, it is like you and I going on a fishing trip together. We catch a lot of fish and take them home. When we get home, I suggest eating the fresh fish we have just caught out of the bay, tonight. We all know how nice fresh fish is. But you say to me, ” Wait a minute Nick, I have a better idea. Why don’t we freeze the fish, and keep it, for about 6-12 months and then eat it?” It just makes no sense to do that.

The same can be said for vegetables that you grow yourself in a vegetable patch. The quality can’t be compared to a frozen variety. Now, in this case, I do understand that if you live somewhere that is remote, then you may need to have your produce transported to you. However, if this is not the case, then my point is that it is not necessary for foods such as vegetables or meats to be frozen. These foods can be found fresh at all farmers markets and supermarkets. The quality is superior in so many ways to frozen foods. It just takes some discipline to make an effort to shop more often and to prepare fresh foods.

So, if you are looking for quick and easy, go for frozen. This is the reason most people go for the frozen foods. However, if your health is important to you, then make time to find and prepare fresh foods. And remember, If you don’t find time for your health now, your health will book a time for you later.

Nick Jack is a qualified CHEK Exercise Coach, Level II Holistic Lifestyle Coach and personal trainer. He runs a personal training business called NO Regrets Personal Training.

Nick likes to lift weights, cycle, run and triathlon. He has played almost every sport at one time in his life. Now, he enjoys spending time walking his dog and relaxing with his wife and friends.

Mathew Skate – 2008 QLD Marathon Champion, Life Coach and Personal Trainer

Before you buy fresh or frozen foods, you need to ask yourself why you are purchasing them. Is it due to time management and your current lifestyle factors, or is it because you believe fresh is best?

I have been in the health and fitness industry for quite some time and from my perspective the “fresh is best” philosophy seems to dominate. You may be pleasantly surprised to hear that the nutritional differences between common fresh and frozen foods are only marginal. To understand this better, let’s break it down and compare vegetables and meat separately.

Frozen vegetables are harvested during their prime and are snap frozen after blanching, which preserves the majority of the vitamins and minerals. Harvesting fresh produce is sometimes done prior to the fruit or vegetable reaching full maturity, depending on the food. I remember growing up on an orchard in Victoria and the fresh produce we sent to market was picked prior to full maturity so that the consumer would receive the produce 24 to 48-hours later. This way, it had time to ripen and was less likely to spoil. When it comes to nutritional value and taste, nothing compares to picking your own produce and consuming it within the same day. I loved it when I found a sweet peach or nectarine on the tree a week or two later that was missed by the pickers. You cannot find that type of freshness or nutrition in the grocery shops.

The longer fresh produce sits on the shelves and is exposed to oxygen and light, the more susceptibility it has of losing nutritional value. A recent study, I read, suggests that fresh vegetables have marginally higher levels of calcium and potassium. The frozen vegetables, however, had almost twice as much vitamin C as the fresh produce. This is why snap freezing vegetables is a fantastic way to preserve vitamin properties. Overall, consuming fresh produce whilst it is still relatively ‘fresh’ seems to slightly outweigh the nutritional content of the frozen option, which can be fantastic alternative to fresh produce.

Freezing your meat in edible portions is a sensible way to organise your meal planning which gives you a lot more time to yourself, rather than purchasing meat on a daily basis. Freezing meat preserves the protein, magnesium, iron, and other essential minerals. A good tip is to move your frozen meat into the refrigerator to defrost around 36 hours before cooking. Defrosting your meat at room temperature will have a higher risk of developing bacteria that may lead to food poisoning. Personally, I will freeze my chicken and red meats. When it comes to fish, I much prefer to eat this fresh over frozen, as I believe freezing compromises the taste of some varieties. Any food to be frozen food should be well wrapped in freezer bags with as much oxygen taken out as possible.

It is also important to consider freezing times when freezing your foods. So, how long is too long in the freezer? The answer to this question will probably be on the inside of your freezer door, if not, then the general rule-of-thumb is as follows:

  • Vegetables – six months
  • Seafood – three months
  • chicken and pork – six months
  • red meat (beef, lamb, Kangaroo etc) – 12 months

Make sure that your freezer is also cold enough (-18°C) to ensure that your frozen produce maintains its nutrition.

Matt Skate is a life coach and personal trainer. He served in the Australian Army for 19 years as a physical training instructor and then started Weight to Life in 2011.

Matt assists people to lose weight and create a healthier lifestyle by helping them break through their negative beliefs, behaviours, and expectations. He loves to train in all forms and at all levels of fitness and was crowned the QLD Marathon champion in 2008.

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