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Eating plenty of vegetables ensures that you’re getting enough vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, folic acid and potassium, among others. During the winter months, fresh vegetable prices can soar, and it’s more difficult to find certain veggies in your produce section. This may lead you down the frozen foods aisle for frozen vegetables instead of fresh ones.

But are frozen vegetables as nutritious as fresh ones?

“Fresh vegetables are most nutritious when they’re picked at peak ripeness and eaten soon after, but that’s not always possible,” said Amanda Otruba, LDN, RDN. “Vegetables that are frozen shortly after they’re picked can be just as nutritious as fresh vegetables.”

Recent research supports this idea and shows that freezing vegetables does not deplete nutrients as was previously thought. In fact, freezing produce “locks in” nutrients, while fresh vegetables slowly lose nutrients between the time they are picked and the time they hit your table.

This means that if fresh produce travel thousands of miles from a farm to your grocery store, and then sits in the produce section, followed by a short stint in your refrigerator, you’re slowly losing nutrients. That’s why many experts also encourage eating local produce when possible.

However, when it’s not possible to choose fresh produce, there are some things to look for in frozen vegetables.

First, seek out vegetables that have been “flash frozen.” Freezing vegetables stops the aging process and preserves the nutrients. When vegetables are “flash frozen,” they’re picked at the height of their ripeness and frozen quickly to lock in nutrients.

Next, look at the label. Though most frozen vegetables are free of salt or other ingredients, you should double check.

Finally, stay away from vegetables cooked in sauces that are loaded with sodium and add unnecessary calories, fat and preservatives to your meal.

“Frozen vegetables make it easier to get your vitamins during the winter and also provide an excellent shortcut to ensure that you get two to three cups of vegetables a day — all year round,” said Otruba.