Fruits and vegetables are a critical part of a balanced, healthy diet. These foods provide all the important nutrients the body needs to stay healthy. Although fresh fruits and vegetables have long been regarded as the superior choice compared to canned foods, research shows that fresh and canned foods might not be so different at all.
The Pros and Cons of Canned Foods
Unlike fresh fruits and vegetables, which are harvested just as they are about to ripen, canned fruits and vegetables are harvested at the peak of ripeness. Ripeness is important in the development of a fruit or vegetable’s full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. This means an almost ripe banana is not as nutritious as a very ripe banana.
Canned fruits and vegetables are always harvested at the peak of ripeness. This helps keep the produce’s nutritional value intact.
Pro: Retained Nutrient Content
Contrary to popular notion, canning does not entail massive nutrient loss in fresh foods. Because fresh fruits and vegetables are harvested and processed on the same day, nutrient loss is kept to a minimum. That said, exposing fresh fruits and veggies in high heat could cause nutrient loss. As long as the produce is minimally processed, their nutrient content will remain unchanged.
The texture of fresh fruits and veggies is different compared to their canned counterparts. That’s because the canned produce has been processed before canning. Canned produce loses its crunch and flavor because it is saturated in brine or other preservatives.
Con: Added Preservatives
Canned fruits and vegetables are treated with a cocktail of preservatives to extend their shelf life. These preservatives include sodium and sugar. On the other hand, fresh produce does not contain any preservative at all. However, if you prefer canned produce, get the low sodium or low sugar kinds. Draining the liquid also helps reduce the sugar or sodium content of canned foods.
The Pros and Cons of Fresh Foods
Pro: All Natural
Again, fresh fruits and vegetables are free from preservatives that could affect their texture or nutritional content. Fresh produce contain all natural flavors! Organic fruits and vegetables are even better because they are not laden with pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides.
Pro: Better Texture
When it comes to texture, nothing beats eating fresh fruits and vegetables. You simply cannot get the same satisfying crunch of a fresh apple from a preserved apple slice. And for most consumers, texture is one of the most important aspects of eating. Weird or unusual textures could be off-putting to some people.
As explained above, fresh fruits and vegetables are not harvested at their peak ripeness. This can affect the nutritional content of the produce. Fruits and vegetables have to be at their peak ripeness to achieve their full nutritional value.
But why are fresh fruits and vegetables harvested if they are not fully ripe? This has something to do with decay. As soon as a fruit or vegetable is harvested, it will start to decay. Harvesting fresh fruits or vegetables when they are fully ripened make them more likely to go bad before they are sold. By picking fruits and vegetables before they ripen, vendors are given more time to sell these items to consumers. Generally, fresh fruits and vegetables have to be consumed immediately after being harvested. Otherwise, they lose freshness and vital nutrients.
Our Final Thoughts
According to scientists, canned and fresh fruits and vegetables contain almost the same amount of nutrients. Choosing between the two is a matter of preference. If you want to eat whole foods and love all things natural, you cannot go wrong with fresh fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, if you want foods that keep for a long time, go for canned foods.