We’re always told to eat fresh fruits and veggies. They’re jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants – so it makes perfect sense. But are canned and frozen options just as good?
After all, it’s hard to get fresh fruits and vegetables sometimes. This might be due to busy schedules, cold weather, or tight budgets.
It doesn’t mean you need to skip healthy eating! Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are great alternatives. They’re also inexpensive and easy to find.
When fruits and vegetables are canned or frozen, they have less nutrient depletion. Here are three reasons why they’re healthy.
Reasons Why Canned Or Frozen Fruits And Vegetables Are Healthy
1. Fewer Risks During Transportation
The moment fresh produce is picked, they start to deteriorate. This poses a higher risk for nutrient reduction, mold growth, and moisture loss. Plus, transportation can take a few days or weeks.1 Fresh fruits and vegetables are also more susceptible to microbial infections if they aren’t handled properly.2
In the grocery, they might sit around for a few days. By the time they reach your plate, tons of nutrients have degraded. Water soluble vitamins like vitamin C have the greatest risk because of moisture loss. Even heat and light can destroy nutrients. Some vitamins – like thiamin and vitamin B6 – are sensitive to these factors. While groceries are temperature controlled, there’s no way to know if they were handled properly.3
However, canned and frozen produce are prepared in their ripest states. The processing techniques can even preserve the nutrients, according to Journal of Food Science and Agriculture. Specifically, fiber and minerals are the most stable.4
2. Longer Shelf-Life
Canned and frozen produce also lasts longer at home. They’ll have a minimal nutrient loss, and will be ripe whenever you need it. You won’t have to worry about mold, rotting, and food waste.
On the other hand, fresh produce loses nutrients in your kitchen. This is especially true if it’s left on the counter. Refrigeration can slow things down, helping perishable food stay fresh up to 8 or 10 days. Freezing is always best. In fact, frozen produce won’t lose too many nutrients if the storage temperature is well-maintained.5
3. Needs Less Water
Compared to fresh produce, canned versions need less water to cook. Often, they also need less heating time. This means additional depletion of water-soluble nutrients, like vitamin C, is less likely.
However, keep in mind that many nutrients leach out into canning water. Don’t throw it out! Save it for soups, sauces, or recipes that need a broth. You’ll get an amazing dose of nutrition in your next meal.
As for frozen fruits and veggies? Take advantage of the light layer of frost. Frozen fruits are perfect for infused waters and smoothies. Veggies will also steam very easily.
Things to Remember
- Frozen and canned produce is better than none at all. But don’t skip the fresh food. For optimal nutrition, buy local and in seasons.
- Always choose canned fruits and vegetables without any added salt or sugar. Look for options that are in water or their own juices. Vegetables like beans and corns can be rinsed to remove extra salt.
- When possible, avoid boiling vegetables because it will deplete 60 to 70 percent of the minerals. If you must boil them, don’t do it at high temperatures. You can also use the liquid for soup.6
Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables can be a part of a healthy diet. They’re extremely convenient and available all year round. You’ll have no excuse for eating well!
|↑1, ↑3, ↑5||Maximizing the Nutritional Value of Fruits & Vegetables. Fruit & Vegetable Preservation Resources.|
|↑2||Ackerley, Nyssa, Aylin Sertkaya, and Rachel Lange. “Food transportation safety: characterizing risks and controls by use of expert.” Food protection trends 30, no. 4 (2010): 212-222.|
|↑4||Rickman, Joy C., Diane M. Barrett, and Christine M. Bruhn. “Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Part 1. Vitamins C and B and phenolic compounds.” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 87, no. 6 (2007): 930-944.|
|↑6||KIMURA, Mieko, and Yoshinori ITOKAWA. “Cooking losses of minerals in foods and its nutritional significance.” Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology 36, no. 4-SupplementI (1990): S25-S33.|