By Simone Tronciu
In the wonderful world of nutrition, each season brings with it certain common questions. One of the most common ones I’m asked in the winter, when fruit and vegetables aren’t fresh, is this: what’s better–frozen or canned?
No matter the season, the best thing for both fruits and vegetables to be consumed is when they’re fresh and ripe, but–and yes it is a big but–believe it or not, sometimes frozen is actually better than fresh. Yes, I know that sounds crazy.
Fruits and vegetables are always best and deliver 100% of their nutrients–antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, to name a few–when they’re at their peak ripeness. When they are picked and transported to stores before they have reached that state of peak ripeness, they have not yet even developed all the nutritional benefits they offer, nor will they have the chance to do so because they are removed from the environment that is conducive to that necessary development (sun, temperature, moisture).
With that being said, when fruits and vegetables are picked for freezing, they’re usually picked at the best time, when they’re fully ripe and nutritionally optimal. They do however lose a little of their nutrition during the washing and steaming they are exposed to; done to kill bacteria and remove pesticides. They are then immediately frozen. Since they are still in their ripe state, nutrients are locked in.
A means of preserving food (not limited to fruits and vegetables). This is great, but what it does to the nutritional value of the food is what is not so great. In fact, the term itself is somewhat misleading since the food contents are processed before being placed in the airtight container. Processing involves pasteurization, drying, boiling, and exposure to radiation aimed at destroying and removing the components that lead the food to spoil, decompose and become stale and thus shorten its shelf life.
The objective of canning is to extend the time the food is edible, but it’s done at the expense of the nutritional content; and what is left of that is also further deteriorated considerably by various additives and preservatives consisting of sodium (salt), sugar, syrups and numerous chemical compounds, and other substances that most cannot even pronounce.
So it goes without saying that if you are ever in doubt always go for frozen over canned. After all, do you even know what your food is sitting in inside that can?
Simone Tronciu is the nutrition specialist for Her City Lifestyle. She is CanFitPro NWS and PTS certified.