You have been told a billion times not to buy off-season produce. But that doesn’t mean you should skip the fruits you love at this time of year. It’s just a matter of knowing which version is the healthiest and most delicious.
“In the winter, frozen or dried options can have an edge over fresh when it comes to flavor and nutrition,” says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Eat Your Way Sexy.
This is your guide to making the best choices now.
Frozen blueberries are typically the small wild version, which scientists say contain more disease-causing antioxidants than their traditionally grown counterparts (the kind you probably won’t find fresh right now).
Also, fresh blueberries are expensive in winter and can quickly become moldy if transported from afar.
Apples are an excellent source of quercetin, an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers. And the quercetin content in a fresh apple is maintained even if it was picked months ago and kept cold until winter, a Nutrition Journal study suggests.
Most of the quercetin in the fruit and half of the fiber is in the skin, which is obtained from fresh apples, but generally not from dried apples.
If possible, opt for certified organic produce to avoid pesticides on the outside of the fruit.
Fresh or frozen, strawberries are an important source of vitamin C, but let’s be honest, the texture of frozen strawberries leaves something to be desired. In addition, fresh strawberries remain reasonably priced all winter long compared to other berries.
Consider spending on organic produce, however, as conventionally grown strawberries contain some of the highest levels of pesticides of any fruit, according to the Environmental Working Group.
Bing sweet cherries are very prone to bruising during international winter shipping, and your wallet can take a hit from their high winter price. They also lag behind tart cherries, the version most often found dry, in terms of vitamin C and beta-carotene content.
By removing moisture, dried tart cherries are also particularly concentrated in anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants, he adds. Make sure to look for sugar-free versions so you don’t consume too much sugar.
By the time winter plums arrive in the United States (even from as far away as South America) and maybe on store shelves for days, they often have unpleasant flaws.
Meanwhile, ounce for ounce, prunes (you know them as prunes) contain five times more fiber and vitamin K, a nutrient needed for sufficient blood.
coagulation – like the fresh type. Eating plums can also boost bone strength, Florida State University researchers found.
When it comes to juicy goodness, South American winter peaches are just a shade of the fresh, locally sourced summer version. They also cost about double.
They’re not that good for you either: “Peaches can lose a significant amount of their nutrients, including potassium, when shipped to multiple countries,” says Cynthia Sass, RD, author of Cinch! Beat cravings, drop pounds, and lose inches.
Frozen peaches, on the other hand, are harvested at their peak of ripeness and quick-frozen to preserve vitamins, antioxidants, and flavor.