Did your mum always tell you to eat your veges while you were growing up? She had good reason to. Vegetables contain important vitamins and minerals that are essential to maintain a healthy and strong body. But what happens if your vegetables come in packets from the freezer aisle? Is fresh produce nutritionally healthier than opting for frozen? The answer may surprise you.

Freezing veges seals in nutrients

A 2010 study conducted by the UK-based Institute of Food Research on behalf of frozen food manufacturer Birds Eye found that freezing produce shortly after it was harvested could actually help seal in the nutrients.

The study determined that after 16 days, up to 45 per cent of nutrients in fresh green beans could be lost, 25 per cent from cauliflower and broccoli, 15 per cent from peas and 10 per cent from carrots.

Even once you have purchased it, most fresh produce doesn't reach your plate for another number of days while it sits in your fridge or in the fruit bowl waiting to be eaten.

Why opt for frozen veges?

Frozen vegetables can also save you time on prep work which is great if you're busy and have limited time to cook your meals. They already come sliced and diced in the bag which means you won't have to spend extra time doing the cutting, making it easier to create healthy meals at home.

From quick stir fries to fast stews and side dishes, frozen veges can easily be used across a number of meals, and are conveniently ready to go whenever you need them.

Don't give up on fresh veges just yet

If you usually struggle to eat your veges in the first few days after purchasing them, you no longer have to let them go to waste! You can easily freeze the veges yourself, and simply defrost them when you are ready to cook.

Stir frys, soups and stews are good options for using up fresh vegetables if you are determined to incorporate them into your meals rather than let them go to waste. Regardless of any vitamin and mineral loss they will still hold useful nutrients and contain fibre for digestive health. You can also use them to create quiches or savoury muffins which are quick and economical lunch options.

NZ Real Health is an online magazine where you can find practical information and advice on health, wellbeing and fitness. For more articles like this, visit www.nzrealhealth.co.nz.