Fresh is best, or is it? You'll be surprised.
Written by Simon Challies, Nutrient Rescue Director.
Growing up in the 70s was easy. John Denver and Abba ruled the airwaves, we all knew our neighbours, and we ate "meat and three veg" - except on Friday when it was always fish. My mum grew pretty much all our fresh produce, and preserved the stuff we couldn't eat when it was ready to be eaten.
Fast forward forty years and most kids have no idea where their food comes from - 'The supermarket?'. But how it got there or what happened to it along the way is a total mystery.
"Most kids have no idea where their food comes from"
Like those bananas from exotic places like Ecuador. To get ready for their 11,000+ km journey, they are harvested before they are ripe and stored in chillers. And that’s where they stay, in suspended animation, hopefully at the same temperature and humidity, for the weeks (or months) the journey will take to arrive at the 'fresh' produce section of your supermarket. Hmmm... I wonder how the nutritional value is affected from that adventure.
How much do we know about harvesting, storing, transporting, preparing, and cooking fruit and vegetables to maintain optimal nutrient density?
Did you know fruit and vegetables continue breathing after they're picked? They breathe even harder when they are separated from their source of water and nutrients. And just like us, they perspire and lose even more moisture if they are kept in conditions too hot or too humid. You can keep an apple 'fresh' for 12 months if you limit the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere and slow down its rate of breathing… or suffocate it!
"You can keep an apple 'fresh' for 12 months... if you suffocate it!"
Just because fruit and vegetables can be kept 'fresh' doesn’t mean they maintain their nutritional value. Take those yummy green peas you picked yesterday, kept in the fridge overnight and ready for you to pod and cook for tonight's dinner... Did you know 61% of its vitamin C is gone by the time it lands on your plate? Devastated!
If fruit and vegetables are not kept refrigerated at a constant temperature and humidity, the results will be worse. That explains why my Grandad took his produce picked yesterday to the market at ungodly hours in the morning - and it was all done and dusted by the time the day had started to warm up. Refrigeration has its limits though - most fresh produce can't be kept fresh in the fridge for much more than a week.
So this presents us with a dilemma. We know we can't grow this stuff all year round, so we either eat it only when it's in season, or preserve it somehow. We can freeze it, can it, dehydrate it, or pickle it.
Which method best preserves the nutritional value?
If those same fresh green peas were snap-frozen immediately after harvest and kept in your freezer for three months they lose 66% of their vitamin C content. Only slightly worse than the peas picked yesterday and eaten fresh.
Canned is the worst process for maintaining nutrients. They typically lose 80-95% of their nutrients. I always thought those canned baby carrots had an unnatural taste and a slightly slimy or mushy texture anyway...
So, what's the impact of dehydration?
By now I was very curious about the impact of dehydration, as Nutrient Rescue's Green, Red and Double Shots are the result of harvesting the most nutritious NZ-grown organic leafy greens and red berries at the peak and immediately subjecting them to freeze-drying, or in some cases conventional drying. I found that freeze drying typically preserves 95% of the nutrients, while conventional drying retains 50-60%. Significantly better than the alternatives, and will hold those nutrients for 24 months at least.
"Freeze-drying typically preserves 95% of the nutrients"
It definitely helps that we just add water to our shots and shake them before we knock them back - no subjecting them to the secondary process of cooking. Not only do the ingredients provide some of the highest nutrient levels found in plants, but they also lose very few of them on their journey from the garden to our gut. More nutrition means more energy, which explains why they are so powerful.
While you still can't beat fresh from your garden, eaten raw and immediately, it's clear that freeze-drying is the next best thing.
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The Double Shot combines the energy boost of boysenberries and blackcurrants with the micro-nutrients and proven health benefits of green plant food.
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