read Fresh vs Dried vs Frozen Fruits: What’s the Best Choice?

Fresh vs Dried vs Frozen Fruits: What’s the Best Choice?

Fresh fruits vs dried fruits vs frozen fruits

Fruits are an integral part of our diet, but they have a relatively low shelf life. Dried and frozen fruits, which are long-lasting, have thus been a major fixture on the shelves of supermarkets. But there has been a lot of debate on the nutritional benefits of fresh fruits over dried or frozen fruits, as processing that involves drying or freezing reduces the amounts of vitamins and minerals present in fruits. 

Also watch: 5 Healthy Evening Snack Options

So, what is the actual difference between fresh, dried, and frozen fruits? What should you consume and how much?

Fresh vs dried vs frozen fruits  

Fresh fruits are unprocessed with minimal chemical and physical treatment.

Dried fruits are dehydrated versions of fruits prepared by removing their fluid content to improve their shelf life. So, they have concentrated forms of sugar and nutrients like vitamins and minerals. The various drying techniques involved in preparing dried fruits are freeze drying, sun drying, and microwave drying, among others. 

Frozen fruits are processed after the harvest. Here, the fresh fruits undergo blanching; they are washed and kept in hot water for some time. This is followed by freezing at 5oC or a lower temperature. This turns the water content of the fruit into ice crystals. You need to store these fruits at lower temperatures in deep freezers and thaw them before use. 

How do their nutritional content differ?

Fresh, dried, and frozen fruits are expected to provide you with almost similar amounts of dietary fiber, minerals, and sugars. But the amount of vitamins, especially water-soluble vitamins like C and B-complex, as well as beneficial phytochemicals like bioactive compounds such as flavonoids and polyphenols, vary depending upon the processing methods.

Fresh fruitsDried fruitsFrozen fruits
They are picked when unripe from the field to increase their storage capacity during transit. 
At this stage, the fruits do not contain adequate nutrients.
They might be travelling for weeks before reaching the stores, and their nutritional content is affected by storage, heat, and transit time. 
Dried fruits are rich in energy, phytochemicals, dietary fibers, and minerals.

The dehydration processes might result in lower amounts of sensitive vitamins like vitamin C. Currently, manufacturing units add vitamin C before processing the fruits to maintain their levels and compensate for the loss. 
This process doesn’t lead to significant loss of fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, E, and K. Most of the micronutrients are retained in freeze-dried fruits.  
Ripe fruits, which contain adequate nutrition, are picked from the fields for the process. 
Freezing retains maximum nutrients in fruits. However, the method of blanching might affect their vitamin C and B-complex levels to some extent. 
When stored for a longer period, they may also lose fat-soluble vitamins like A and E.

Advantages and disadvantages of fresh, dried, and frozen fruits

Pros Cons
Fresh fruitsLow-calorie
Nutrient-dense
Minimal processing
High-fluid content
Short shelf-life
Seasonal availability
Loss of vitamins like C, A, and E to some extent
Dried fruitsRich in antioxidants and phytochemicals especially anthocyanins that may help to prevent cardiovascular diseases
Easy-to-carry
Longer shelf-life of over one year

Concentrated sources of natural sugar;
so,  they need to be consumed in lesser quantity
Frozen fruitsLow-calorie
Longer shelf-life ranging between six months to one year
Non-seasonal availability
Loss of vitamins like C, A, and E to
a certain extent

Tips to consume fresh, dried, and frozen fruits

You can opt to eat all these types of fruits. Each form has its plus points when consumed in the correct proportion. Here are a few ideas on when to consume these fruits:

1. Consume fresh fruits as per the weather and region

These fruits travel the least distance before reaching your table. So, they offer maximum nutritional benefits as compared to non-seasonal, exotic fruits. For instance, strawberries, oranges, and apples are abundantly available during winters in India. You can choose them over exotic fruits like kiwi and raspberries.

2. Eat dried fruits in lesser amounts as compared to fresh and frozen fruits

Dried fruits have concentrated forms of sugar and lesser water content as compared to fresh and frozen fruits. So, it is advisable to consume them in lower amounts to keep a check on your calorie intake. For instance, the amount of sugar provided by 100g (three-fourth bowl) of fresh/frozen grapes is equal to a handful of black raisins (19g-20g).

3. Avoid consuming sugar-coated dried and frozen fruits

At times, dried fruits as well as frozen fruits like pineapples, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, etc. may be coated with sugar to enhance the taste and flavour. They are also sold as dried fruit candies. Avoid consuming such products as they increase your energy and sugar intake.

Also read: How to Avoid Sugar in Your Food?

Now that you have understood the characteristics of fresh, dried, and frozen fruits, consume them wisely. Although there are many differences among these fruits, eating them in proper amounts may provide  you with optimum nutritional benefits. 

References
1. Longvah T, Ananthan R, Bhaskarachary K, et al. Indian Food Composition Tables. Hyderabad, India: India Council of Medical Research, Govt. of India, 2017.
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3. Fabi JP, Peroni FHG, Gomez MLPA. Papaya, mango and guava fruit metabolism during ripening: postharvest changes affecting tropical fruit nutritional content and quality. Fresh Prod 2010; 4: 56–66.
4. Sijtsema SJ, Jesionkowska K, Symoneaux R, et al. Perceptions of the health and convenience characteristics of fresh and dried fruits. LWT – Food Sci Technol 2012; 49: 275–81.
5. Chang SK, Alasalvar C, Shahidi F. Review of dried fruits: Phytochemicals, antioxidant efficacies, and health benefits. J Funct Foods 2016; 21: 113–32.
6. Miller SR, Knudson WA. Nutrition and Cost Comparisons of Select Canned, Frozen, and Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. Am J Lifestyle Med 2014; 8: 430–37.
7. Stamenković Z, Pavkov I, Radojčin M, et al. Convective drying of fresh and frozen raspberries and change of their physical and nutritive properties. Foods 2019; 8: 14–17.

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