Part of our mission at the San Diego Food Bank is to not only act as a source of food for people in need, but to be a nutrition bank – to provide those in need with food of high nutritional value. In alignment with
this, we also provide nutrition education to our client population. This is accomplished by offering cooking demonstrations, circulating healthy recipes, and via informational posts to our blog – like this one! So, in line with our mission, today we discuss the often scrutinized nutritional benefits of canned and frozen fruits and vegetables.
We at the Food Bank sincerely hope that everyone is getting their daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. But we’re sympathetic to the fact that sometimes fresh produce isn’t easily available due to price, season, and remote location. Luckily, there is canned and frozen produce to remedy this problem!
Canned and frozen produce gets a bad rap! But canned and frozen produce actually provide the same nutritional value of fresh produce. Because canned and frozen produce are packaged very close to the time of harvest, the nutritional value of these foods are “locked in”. By the time fresh produce reaches your home it has already endured long trips from a farm, to a distributor, and to a grocery store.
Canned and frozen produce particularly shines when it comes to shelf life. Canned produce, depending on the product acidity, can keep in your pantry for up to 5 years! Frozen produce, depending on variety and consistent storage temperature, can keep in your freezer for upwards of 10 months! Because canned and frozen produce are preserved in bulk and have greater longevity, their price is often lower than fresh produce. Canned and frozen produce also make foods that would otherwise be unavailable due to season or remote location easily accessible.
However, there is one area where canned and frozen produce can fall short. Canned and frozen vegetables (and meats) can contain higher levels of sodium. This is done to enhance flavor, and sometimes to maintain the food’s texture. However, many brands of canned vegetables offer a reduced-sodium option to combat this. There is also the issue of added sugar in canned and frozen fruits, again done to enhance flavor. Luckily, there are no-added sugar versions of canned and frozen fruits.
Despite perceived short-comings, canned and frozen produce are just as nutrient-rich as their fresh counterparts. Just keep an eye out for added salt and sugar, and of course ensure the integrity of packaging, whether canned, jarred, or frozen in a bag. Of course, fresh produce is always a quality option, but don’t count out canned and frozen produce!