08 July, 2011
Is Canned Fruit as Healthy as Fresh Fruit?
Canned fruit may not have the fresh flavor and firm texture of recently harvested ripe fruit, but it does provide fiber, carbohydrates and essential minerals. Although fruit may lose some of its vitamin content during the canning process, its basic nutritional profile is similar to fresh fruit. If you eat fruit packed in water or in its own juices rather than in syrup, canned fruit offers a healthy alternative to the fresh varieties.
The canning process used by canned food manufacturers may degrade some of the nutritional content of fresh fruit, according to the American Council on Exercise. Before canning, ripe fruits are blanched -- dipped in boiling water then in cold water -- to soften the fruit without fully cooking it. The exposure to boiling water may reduce the fruit’s B-complex and vitamin C content, both of which are water-soluble vitamins sensitive to heat. Peeling fruits before canning may remove some of the polyphenolic compounds, which are antioxidant nutrients that may help protect you against the cellular damage caused by carcinogenic substances. The fiber, minerals and carbohydrate in canned fruit and fresh fruit are similar, the American Council on Exercise notes.
When you’re shopping for canned fruit, look for fruits labeled “packed in its own juice” or “unsweetened.” Fruits labeled “packed in syrup” or "packed in juice" may have added sugar, which translates into extra calories and carbohydrates. Canned fruit packed in its own juice retains its polyphenolic content, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Canned fruit has about 60 calories and 15 g of carbohydrate per serving, according to the American Diabetes Association’s fruit exchange list as shown at MayoClinic.com. One-half cup of unsweetened canned apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, pineapple or plums equals one fruit serving. Three-fourths of a cup of unsweetened canned grapefruit or mandarin oranges constitute one fruit serving. By comparison, four fresh apricots, one large pear, 3/4 cup of cubed pineapple, or two small plums equal one fruit serving. For 15 g of carbohydrates and 60 calories, fresh fruit offers more volume than unsweetened canned fruit, which means that eating a serving of fresh fruit may satisfy your hunger more effectively than its canned equivalent.
Taste and Texture
Canned fruit may not have the firm texture or subtle flavors of ripe fruit, but its soft texture may be an advantage if you’re following a bland diet for medical reasons. If you can’t tolerate the roughage in fresh fruit, you may find that canned varieties are easier to digest. Canned fruits such as mandarin oranges provide a healthy snack for young children, who often enjoy their softer texture.
Canned fruit makes a convenient cooking ingredient as well as a quick snack. Blend canned peaches into smoothies or serve with vanilla yogurt or low-fat ice cream. Stir canned blackberries or blueberries into pancakes or muffins for extra fiber and antioxidant nutrients. Diced pineapple adds an exotic flavor to cole slaw or tossed salads. For breakfast, top cottage cheese with canned apricots, pineapple or pears.
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