One way to make healthful meals more economical is to incorporate canned fruits and vegetables, which are often cheaper and more convenient than fresh produce. But does that mean sacrificing nutrients?
Thankfully, it does not. Studies show that like frozen produce, canned produce – provided it is free of added salt and sugars – has a nutrient value that is often as good as, if not better than, that of fresh produce.
Freshly picked fruits and vegetables typically do start with more vitamins and nutrients. But degradation occurs during shipping, and produce sold in many markets often sits on shelves or in storage for days before it reaches a shopper’s basket.
Canned produce can lose some of its nutritional value as well, particularly water-soluble nutrients like vitamins B and C. But over all, the nutrients in canned fruits and vegetables tend to be relatively stable because they are protected from the deteriorating effects of oxygen, a fact emphasized in an extensive report on the subject published in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture by researchers at the University of California, Davis.
“Fresh fruits and vegetables usually lose nutrients more rapidly than canned or frozen products,” the researchers wrote. “Losses of nutrients during fresh storage may be more substantial than consumers realize” and may not be reflected on nutrition labels.
At the end of the day, of course, either option is a healthy one.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Despite their reputation, canned fruits and vegetables retain many of their nutrients, in some cases better than fresh produce does.