Canned fruits and vegetables - A healthy choice

When shopping for fruits and vegetables, most grocery stores offer fresh, frozen and canned varieties. A recent study by MSU shows that canned produce provides both nutrition and affordability.

Canned fruits and vegetables provide us with many essential nutrients and can actually be healthier than the fresh produce we buy at the store.

Canned fruits and vegetables provide us with many essential nutrients and can actually be healthier than the fresh produce we buy at the store.

Most of us understand the importance of eating fruits and vegetables. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) My Plate, vegetables and fruits:

  • Are naturally low in fat and calories and contain no cholesterol.
  • Are sources of many essential nutrients including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid) and vitamins A and C.
  • As part of an overall healthy diet, may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer. 

Most grocery stores offer many options when purchasing fruits and vegetables, including fresh, frozen and canned varieties. The average consumer, on a mission to increase his or her fruit and vegetable intake, may believe that the fresh varieties offered in the produce department are the healthiest options…but not necessarily.

A recent study by Michigan State University, “Nutrition and Cost Comparisons of Select Canned, Frozen and Fresh Fruits and Vegetables” shows that canned fruits and vegetables provide both nutrition and affordability. Findings from the study show the following advantages:

  • Most canned fruits and vegetables contain the same amount of nutrients as fresh and frozen produce. There are some canned foods that actually contain more vitamins and minerals than the fresh options.
  • Canned fruits and vegetables have a longer shelf life, are ready to eat and easy to use when preparing meals. 
  • Canned fruits and vegetables are usually lower in price which allows families to stretch their food dollars.
  • Canned fruits and vegetables are safe. The canning process uses high levels of heat to preserve the food which prevents the growth of pathogens that are the cause of foodborne illnesses. 

Another important factor to take into consideration is canned fruits and vegetables are processed within hours of harvest making them not only healthy, but great tasting! Michigan State University Extension reminds us to select canned options that contain no added sugar or sodium. Canned fruits, stored in their own juice, versus syrup, are lower in calories. Canned vegetables with no salt added are readily available, and a healthier option than those that contain sodium.