I’m sure it’s no surprise that incorporating fruits and vegetables is a great way to establish a healthy eating style. In fact, nearly nine in 10 (88 percent) of Americans agree that consuming fruits and vegetables is an important part of maintaining a healthy eating style. However, fewer than one in 10 (8.9 percent) of us meet the recommendations for vegetable intake, and only 13.1 percent meet the recommendations for fruit.
There are several reasons why we aren’t consuming more fruits and vegetables, but the number one reason given is directly related to cost. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of Americans believe that fruits and vegetables are just too expensive. Now, it’s true that fresh fruits and vegetables can be pricey, but what about canned fruits and veggies?
Comparing the cost of canned produce to fresh produce reveals that canned options are much more affordable than fresh, so why aren’t more people buying canned? When asked, 35 percent of consumers said that canned vegetables are less healthy than fresh vegetables. But are they really less healthy?
Looking at the nutrition information between canned and fresh green beans revealed that the nutritional content is pretty similar between the two. However, one of the primary differences is sodium content, with canned green beans having more than fresh vegetables. Sodium is used in canned foods to “enhance flavor and texture, prevent microbial growth, and increase shelf life.”
Due to the health concerns associated with high sodium intake, many of us are steering away from foods that contain high amounts of sodium. Fortunately, low-sodium options exist for many foods, including canned vegetables. You can also reduce the sodium content of canned vegetables by draining and rinsing with water prior to cooking. This can reduce sodium by as much as 41 percent.
Canned fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with “higher-quality diet, lower body weight, and lower blood pressure.” Canned vegetables have just as much nutritional value as fresh vegetables and can taste just as good. Canned vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and immediately canned, locking in flavor and nutrients.
If you are not eating enough fruits and vegetables, try canned options. They can save you time and money, and can contribute to a healthy eating style.
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Megan Meyer, PhD, contributed to this piece.