WASHINGTON—Though canned fruits and vegetables have a gotten a bad rap for being less nutritionally dense than fresh fruits and vegetables, research shows canned foods deliver on nutrition, affordability and safety, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
Researchers from Michigan State University analyzed more than 40 scientific journal studies and nutrition data, comparing canned fruits and vegetables to fresh and frozen based on nutrition and cost. They found canned fruits and vegetables are on par nutritionally with fresh and frozen, and in some cases, they are even better. In fact, canned tomatoes have more lycopene, which is associated with reducing cancer risk, and more B vitamins than fresh tomatoes. Canning also helps make fiber in certain vegetables (such as beans) more soluble, and therefore more useful to the human body.
Families can stretch their grocery budgets by choosing canned produce. Canned vegetables are often more affordable than fresh and frozen varieties, saving up to half the cost of frozen and 20% of the cost of fresh, with virtually no sacrifices in nutritional quality.
Canned fruits and vegetables provide great-tasting, safe options to help Americans meet their dietary needs. The high-heat canning process is one of the safest processes for preserving food because it prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause foodborne illnesses. This is an important safety benefit considering the thousands of Americans hospitalized every year with foodborne illnesses.
"Canned fruits and vegetables provide high-quality nutrition to Americans, regardless of income level and geography," said Steven Miller, Ph.D., lead researcher and assistant professor at MSU's Center for Economic Analysis. "By increasing accessibility to key nutrients many Americans need, canned foods are a year-round solution to help families prepare healthier, balanced meals."