A recent study examined the nutritional disparity between foods that were fresh, frozen, dried or canned. This study is particularly important when examining the cost value of a food product. Canned vegetables are generally much cheaper, and are therefore a more common choice for lower income households. Fresh vegetables have the highest price and the shortest shelf life. It is well known that economic divides reflect on dietary options, and can manifest distinct patterns of disease.
Terrestrial living; surrounded by kryptonite
There exists a natural bias towards fresh produce, as practical understanding recognizes that organic tissue decomposes, and the longer it sits on the shelf, the fewer nutrients it will retain by the time it is eaten. The thing that destroys nutrients is exposure to air and energy. Energy may come in the form of light or heat, but both similarly degrade the cellular structure of the vegetables. Heat famously destroys nutrients as well as the enzymes needed for the digestion of the remaining nutrients. Vitamin C and carotenoids are particularly vulnerable to heat damage.
While light is necessary for the plants to flourish in the first place, without the constant replacement of weakened cells (i.e., after the plant has been harvested, the cells stop being replaced, as the plant’s processes slowly die off), the tissue begin to fall apart. The process operates in the same manner as human cell turn over, leading to signs of aging. Oxidization is the main threat that limits the shelf life of fresh produce, as well as the lifespan of the human body. Even those fresh fruits and vegetables, with their abundant store of anti-oxidants, quickly fall victim to constant exposure. Decomposition limits its lifespan, lowering market availability, and raising its price.
Finding cheaper nutrient sources for people on a tight budget
The study examined pinto beans, tomatoes, corn, spinach, green beans, mushrooms, peaches, pears and pumpkin. Some of these foods are not generally available in a dried or frozen form, and so were spared comparison. In addition to vitamins A and C, researchers measured folic acid, protein, fiber and potassium. These nutrients were studied because, despite their high availability in foods, their deficiencies are frequently cited as a contributing factor in illness at any age.
Convenience that doesn’t leave a mark
Researchers found that the price is far more greatly affected by the canning, freezing or drying than is the nutritional content. This is good news for raw food juicers, who can be assured that a weeks’ worth of juicing in one afternoon isn’t taking a big bite into their vitamin stores in exchange for a little convenience.
Health-e-Solutions comment: We prefer freezing or drying over canning. Unfortunately, there are preservatives added to many canned foods, and BPA lines some of the canned foods.
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