Are frozen and canned fruits and vegetables healthy?

Canned fruits and vegetables are healthy and cost effective.

Fresh fruits and vegetables grown at home are the best choices for a healthy diet, but living in an area with four seasons, the growing season for fresh fruits and vegetables can be short. Often our produce travels from other states affecting the freshness and nutritional content of fruits and vegetables. This raises the question of canned and frozen produce available all year at grocery stores.

Grocery stores offer flash frozen and canned produce, giving the option of fruits and vegetables during all seasons at reasonable prices. This could help the many Americans not eating five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Other benefits to frozen and canned produce is the convenience and the price is usually less expensive than the fresh items.

These processed fruits and vegetables are healthy choice because of the adding of phytochemicals as in canned tomatoes and tomato sauces. In the article Fruits and Veggies More Matters, a research study from Michigan State University Extension found that canned fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh or frozen. In fact, the fiber found in legumes becomes more soluble during canning making canned beans more beneficial for the human body.

Advice when it comes to buying canned fruits and vegetables:
  • Only its own juice- Fruits need to be in its own juice or water, never buy fruits in syrup.
  • Watch out for the salt- Buy vegetables with reduced sodium or no salt added advertised on their labels.
  • Use quickly after opening- To get the most nutrients out of your canned vegetables and fruit, use soon after opening.
Advice for purchasing frozen fruits and vegetables:
  • Go with plain- When buying frozen fruits and vegetables only buy the plain vegetables and fruit. With added sauces come unwanted fat and calories possibly leading to weight gain.
  • Check the label- Frozen fruit in grocery stores is in unsweetened and sweetened varieties. The food label will reveal any added sugars so make sure the fruit is in its own juice.

Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables offer a quick and cost effective alternative to fresh produce for Americans to increase their diet of fruits and vegetables. Canned and frozen produce is a healthy option as long as labels are carefully read. During warmer months, when fresh fruits and vegetables are in abundance, it may be a good time to learn how to can and freeze local fruits and vegetables.  Colder months are guaranteed to return, so making a plan to fill freezers and shelves with fresher produce will pay off in the long run.  

Michigan State University Extension has programs across the state to teach communities about increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and to safely and effectively can fruits and vegetables. Check out MSU Extension’s website to find these program events.

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