Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables aren’t as good for you as fresh?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Fresh fruits and vegetables are better for you than canned or frozen because the processing removes all the nutrients.
WHAT WE KNOW
The nutrient content of canned and frozen fruits and vegetables is comparable to fresh and, in some cases, it may be higher than fresh. Produce to be canned or frozen is processed immediately after harvesting, so nutrient losses after picking are minimal. The canning or freezing process may cause some loss of nutrients which can vary by nutrient. Generally, these losses are small and are not substantially different than losses that may occur at home. Depending on the produce item, canning and freezing may actually preserve some of the nutrient value and can even increase the availability of some nutrients to the body.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
The nutrient content of all forms of fruits and vegetables has been analyzed and reported for nutrition databases. A recent study that looked at the nutritional value of fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables concluded that each can contribute to a healthy diet. Canning locks in the nutrients at their peak of freshness, and they have a long shelf life. Frozen fruits and vegetables are also packed at their peak of freshness, but do have a shorter storage life than canned. Frozen vegetables should be consumed within 8 months of purchase, and frozen fruits should be used within 12 months of purchase (4-6 months for citrus). Further, including frozen and canned in the diet can increase the variety of fruits and vegetables in the diet since some items may not be widely available as fresh. Canned, frozen, and fresh produce are equally economical depending on the time of year and the specific fruit or vegetable. However, canned and frozen fruits and veggies are more economical choices if you find your fresh produce spoiling before you can eat it.
A diet should include a variety of fruits and vegetables. Including canned and frozen forms of fruits and vegetables (as well as dried and 100% juice) can increase the variety in the diet as well as add interest to meals and snacks. Including only one form of fruits or vegetables over another ignores the benefits that each form provides and limits choice. Explore your supermarket and see what new food experiences await you.