Are Canned Fruits and Vegetables Healthy For You?

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Because we’ve been told that fresh is best, it can be difficult for some people to convert to the idea of storing and eating canned fruits and vegetables. However, canned fruits and vegetables can be a healthy alternative for you especially when you don’t eat your produce within a few hours of harvesting.

Consider these facts:

  • An article found in WebMed says, “If you can’t grow your own produce and eat it within hours of harvesting, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables can be every bit as good for you as fresh ones, and in some cases better. Fresh produce is nutritionally better when it is used within a few days of picking. Canned produce is picked and canned at its peak, so even though the heating process destroys some vitamins, the majority of the nutrients remain. The statement further noted that canned tomatoes, corn, and carrot products provide higher amounts of some (antioxidant) phytochemicals than their fresh counterparts as a result of the canning process.”  
  • The ADA recommended choosing canned products with little added salt or sugar. The MayoClinic suggests choosing canned fruit packed in juice.
  • Tufts University nutritionist Alice Lichtenstein, ScD, tells WebMD “that while most canned vegetables are loaded with salt, salt-free versions are usually also available. You can also rinse your canned vegetables off, and choose fruits packed in their own juice.” Lichtenstein states that “canned and frozen fruits and vegetables give people the opportunity to eat a variety of healthy produce year-round. The quality and variety of frozen fruits, especially, has really improved in recent years. These products can be very good, the cost is often better than fresh, and you don’t have to worry about seasonal availability and spoilage.” WebMed 
  • WeightWatchers says that because your fruit may have to travel long-distances from the farm to your table, “it may suffer improper storage conditions, and precious nutrients may be destroyed along the way.”
  • And LiveStrong suggests choosing canned peaches, pineapple, pears and mandarin oranges packed in 100% fruit juice. “All varieties of salt-free canned beans, including black, white and kidney, are notable sources of fiber and protein.”  

Check out these great videos:

How Foods are Canned – from field to table
Canned fruits – how to buy
Canned vegetables – how to buy
Perhaps the question isn’t, “Which is better: fresh, frozen or canned?” The question should be, “Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables each day?” Are you getting your 5? So unless you have your own greenhouse, a combination of all three methods is probably healthier than only fresh. Especially when many items are picked two to three weeks before they get to your table. Whereas they are picked at their peak when they are frozen or canned. Obviously I’m not trying to sell you on canned foods. Well, maybe I am. But it’s great to know that year-round we can still eat many healthy fruits and vegetables that go out of season to balance out our diets. So grab a can of pumpkin and make some pumpkin pancakes for breakfast.

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