Is fruit still healthy when it's frozen?

When it comes to convenience, frozen fruit is a wonder — providing a nearly endless variety of colorful options no matter the season. Whether you purchase it ripe or flash-frozen from the grocery store, freezing fruit frees you from the worry of produce going bad before you can eat it. If frozen fruit is a go-to component of your culinary routine, you may be wondering how healthy it is, or if you'd reap more benefits from fresher alternatives.

The good news for bargain shoppers and bulk-buyers is that frozen fruit maintains most of its health benefits. In fact, according to Harvard Health Publishing, the difference in fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables is small when it comes to protein, fiber, carbohydrates, and mineral content. While fresh produce does have a slightly higher nutritional content, frozen fruit is a wonderfully healthy alternative. Fresh produce also loses many of its benefits after sitting out for days, so it's okay to shop based on personal preference.

What you should look for in frozen fruit

The biggest area of concern when buying frozen produce is to look out for added sweeteners. According to Livestrong, if the manufacturer flash freezes their fruit without added sugar, the final calorie count is similar. However, many brands add sweeteners to their frozen fruit to enhance flavor and prevent spoiling. These are usually disclosed on the front of the package with the terms "sweetened" or "lightly sweetened," and on the nutritional label under "added sugar."

If you're purchasing frozen fruit, take care to feel the bag first. If the contents feel like one solid block, that may be a clue that the produce was thawed and refrozen at some point (via CNN Health). Ice crystals or stains on the packaging are another warning sign of previously-thawed fruit.

Be careful to store your frozen goods in the back or bottom of the freezer, where they'll be less subject to temperature fluctuations. When reheating, be cautious not to overdo it, which can destroy the phytoactive compounds in fruit.