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Should we refrigerate fruit and veg? Exploring the pros & cons.

Fruit & Veg In The Fridge: Pros & Cons

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❝What effect does refrigeration have on the nutritional value of fruit and vegetables??❞

It’s difficult to give a single definitive answer, because naturally there are a lot of different fruits and vegetables, and a lot of different climates. The answer may be different for tomatoes in Alaska vs bananas in Arizona!

However, we can still generalize at least somewhat 🙂

Refrigeration will generally slow down any degradation process, and in the case of fruit and vegetables, that can mean slowing down their “ripening” too, as applicable.


Refrigeration will also impede helpful bioactivity too, and that includes quite a list of things.

Here’s a good study that’s quite illustrative; we’d summarize the conclusions but the rather long title already does that nicely:

Storage of Fruits and Vegetables in Refrigerator Increases their Phenolic Acids but Decreases the Total Phenolics, Anthocyanins and Vitamin C with Subsequent Loss of their Antioxidant Capacity

So, this really is a case of “there are pros and cons, but probably more cons on balance”.

In practical terms, a good take-away from this can be twofold:

  1. don’t keep fruit and veg in the fridge unless the ambient temperature really requires it
  2. if the ambient temperature does require it, it’s best to get the produce in fresh each day if that’s feasible, to minimize time spent in the fridge

An extra thing not included there: often when it comes to the spoilage of fruit and veg, the problem is that it respires and oxidizes; reducing the temperature does lower the rate of those, but often a far better way is to remove the oxygen. So for example, if you get carried away and chop too many carrot batons for your hummus night, then putting them in a sealed container can go a long way to keeping them fresh.

See also: How Does the Nutritional Value of Fruits and Vegetables Change Over Time?


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