CNN  — 

You are probably aware that you should try to eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can for good health. But what if your favorite fruits are not in season, or the veggies on your Sunday shopping list will be eaten much later in the week?

It might be time to favor frozen.

Going frozen means you can enjoy your favorite berries or peaches during wintertime. It also means less spoilage, allowing you to enjoy produce when it’s close to its nutritional best – that is, whenever you decide to consume it.

In fact, research has revealed that frozen fruits and vegetables can have just as many vitamins – and sometimes more – as compared to fresh.

“In terms of the ways humans have come up with preserving foods, freezing comes up at the top for preserving nutrients,” said study author Ali Bouzari, who is a culinary scientist and author of “Ingredient: Unveiling the Essential Elements of Food.” “If you can’t afford fresh or live in an area where a bodega down the street is all the access to produce you can get, it’s important for people to know that frozen is a viable alternative.”

Aside from preserving vitamins, freezing is the best way to preserve beneficial plant compounds that help protect against disease, explained Mary Ann Lila, director of the Plants for Human Health Institute at North Carolina State University.

Freezing facts

Frozen produce is an especially worthwhile choice if you are not going to eat your fruits and veggies within a day or two, explained Gene Lester, a plant physiologist and national program leader for the US Department of Agriculture, where he oversees all post-harvest animal and plant foods research.

Frozen fruits “are commercially picked at the peak of ripeness and then individually quick frozen and packaged under a nitrogen atmosphere,” Lester said. Exposing fruits and vegetables to nitrogen helps to preserve nutrients that oxygen degrades, and also occurs with some fresh vegetables, like bagged greens.

Vegetables intended to be commercially frozen are also picked at peak ripeness, but unlike fruit, they are blanched prior to freezing, where they are exposed to hot water temperatures between and 90 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, which destroys enzymes that cause discoloration, browning, and loss of flavor.

“Blanching keeps the bright green colors fairly bright green once they’ve been frozen and in storage – otherwise they can take on a grayish or brownish look,” Lester said. Blanching also changes the structure of fiber