Canned fruits and vegetables help increase intake

967632_38993259The majority of Americans do not consume enough fruits and vegetables. In fact, only 33 percent of Americans consume the recommended amount of fruits and only 27 percent consume the recommended amount of vegetables. A new study, conducted by researchers at Michigan State University, found that consuming canned food may increase this intake.

Researchers, led by Dr. Steven Miller, assistant professor at MSU s Center for Economic Analysis, looked at both the potential nutritional benefits and the economic benefits of consuming canned food, in light of the fact that popular media often incorrectly emphasizes the point that only fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy. In terms of nutritional benefits, researchers found that canned fruits and vegetables may well be just as healthy or healthier than their fresh counterparts. They report, for example, that canned tomatoes actually contain higher amounts of lycopene and B vitamins than fresh tomatoes.

And from an economic perspective, researchers found that canned fruits and vegetables cost about 50 percent less than frozen and 20 percent less than fresh. Furthermore, many people live in areas with limited access to fresh produce and canned foods can fill this nutritional void.

ACSH s Ariel Savransky comments: Clearly, there has been an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables as the most nutritious way to eat and the media is often promoting fresh as the only way to get your nutrients. However, it is often the case that people either cannot afford fresh or do not have access to fresh food and canned food is a healthy and safe alternative. Further, the nutrient content of fresh and frozen produce can often be affected by how the foods were stored before reaching the consumer. The emphasis should be on using any available method to make sure one is consuming enough fruits and vegetables and canned food should not be targeted in a negative way.