Glory: Are Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Healthier than Canned or Frozen?

Right off the bat, some readers out there might be thinking “Yeah, of course it is.  Canned goods have extra stuff added to them.”

Some might be thinking “No, because otherwise why would this guy make a blog post about it?”

Well, the latter is correct.  From what I have researched, fresh, frozen, and canned all have similar nutrients across the same product.  Meaning it would be unfair to compare something like the Vitamin A content of canned pumpkin puree to canned applesauce, because pumpkin naturally has a higher vitamin A content (1 cup of cubed pumpkin has 197% of the Daily Value of Vitamin A, whereas 1 cup of cubed apples only has 1%).

One research study from 2007 found that while canning a product does lower the amount of water soluble vitamins (such as Vitamin C and the B vitamins), the process happens the same if you were to cook the product.  So even if you bought the produce fresh or frozen and cooked it, you would still experience some of the nutrient loss.

However, another study from 2012 found that while there are these losses in canned products, the loss exists in the “juice” with the canned goods.  Canning also increases the available Vitamin A and fiber in some products.  This study also looked at the nutrition quality across fresh, frozen, and canned and found for the same product their nutrition was pretty much the same, or similar enough.  Canned goods might actually be cheaper than fresh or frozen, too.

In my nutrition classes, we have talked about this too.  One thing that happens with fresh produce is that it loses its quality overtime.  Fresh produce might have been picked too soon and ripened elsewhere, or the quality degrades as it’s shipped from farm to where you bought it, and then further when you leave it in your refrigerator.

My opinion is buy what you are able to, and what you want.  Eating your fruits and vegetables is a good thing.  Even looking into ways to use some of these foods in new and creative ways might be fun (such as using frozen fruit in a smoothie, or using canned produce in a soup or stew).  To take a phrase from a behavioral marketing campaign from where I work:  “Fresh, Frozen or Canned, It’s All Good!”

What do you guys think?  Have a preference of fresh, frozen, or canned?  Any ideas on how to use them in cooking?  Feel free to comment them below!