Freshest veggies aren’t necessarily in the produce aisle

These babies are full of lycopene, which can help decrease risks of cancer, heart disease and macular degeneration. And orange tomatoes are even better, with 2.5 times more lycopene. A cup of orange tomatoes offers 338 percent of your daily vitamin A needs. (Courtesy psu.edu)

Joan Jones, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – The grocery store’s produce aisle is teeming with wholesome food, right? Maybe not.

A lot of time passes between when those veggies are picked and when they get to the dinner table.

“They cross the country on the truck (then) into the grocery store warehouse (and) from the grocery store into your refrigerator,” says Deborah Jeffery, a registered dietitian in Fairfax, Va.

According to Jeffery, once on the truck, fresh foods are exposed to extreme heat and that releases Vitamins A and C. If farmers want produce on store shelves at their peak, they must harvest them before they’re actually ripe, meaning some nutrients aren’t fully developed.

There’s more nutritional value, Jeffery says, from flash frozen items. Canned produce is good too, as long as it’s free of added salt and sugar.

“What’s great about this area during this time of year is the farmers market,” Jeffery says.

The produce is often picked earlier that same day.

For the freshest produce, fruit and veggie lovers should grow it themselves. For some vegetables, June isn’t too late to start.

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