From an early age, learning how to eat more fruits and vegetables has been one thing many have struggled with. Being picky about certain fruits and more especially with green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, cabbage, lettuce and even peas is something many of us can relate to.
Unfortunately, this aversion is what carries forward into adulthood for many. The question is then how to get the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables into a daily diet.
One option is canned fruits and vegetables. This article explores the love-hate-relationship we have for canned produce.
Table of Contents
How to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables When You Hate Them – Options to Fresh
Frozen or canned produce are alternatives to fresh produce. A previous article “Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned Fruits and Vegetables – How to Select” explain that frozen fruit and vegetables are as nutritious as fresh (Linshan Li et al 2017).
The trick to select the best nutritious quality is to check and compare the sodium and sugar content on the Nutrition Facts label and choose the product with the lowest amount.
Cause of Subdued Coloration
Nevertheless, the subdued coloration seen in some canned produce – especially vegetables is one myth proffered by some as being indicative of poor nutrient content. However, this is not so. Color changes are primarily due to processing with brine for preservation.
Canned vegetables are full of essential nutrients, and in some cases the nutrients are more readily digestible than in the fresh equivalent.
How to Eat More Fruits and Veggies – Benefits of Canned Produce
There are several benefits to be derived from adding canned produce to your feeding regimen.
1. Locked in freshness and nutrient content
Canned produce is a nutritious option because canning keeps food fresh with retained flavor without adding a lot of preservatives and additives.
Note that other products like sauces contain higher quantities of preservatives and additives.
Canning locks in vitamins and nutrients so they do not suffer further degradation prior to consumption of the produce.
2. Seal out foodborne pathogens
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that at least 128,000 Americans are hospitalized every year with foodborne illnesses.
Fortunately, the high-heat canning process is safe for food preservation because it prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause foodborne illnesses.
3. May be more nutritionally beneficial
Some canned produce may actually be more nutritionally beneficial. Hard to believe you might say…..
For example, canned tomatoes have more B vitamins than fresh tomatoes as well as higher levels of lycopene, which is associated with reducing cancer risk.
Canning also helps make fiber more soluble and therefore more useful to the human body in some vegetables such as beans .
4. How to eat more fruits and vegetables on a budget – Canned Produce are affordable
You can stretch your grocery budget by choosing canned produce because fresh vegetables, we all know, are more costly than their canned counterparts. An added bonus is that canned produce does not easily spoil.
5. Are convenient
They allow you to quickly prepare easy meals amidst the hustle and bustle of your daily activities.
6. Provide variety all year long, in and out of season
Unbelievable….. but there are close to 2000 canned foods – including canned produce. This provides abundant options for creating nutritious meals.
They can be incorporated in soups, sauces, salads and main dishes.
7. Contain low sodium content
Brine is used a s a preservative for canned vegetables.
A variety of canned vegetables are available in sodium-free and low-sodium options. You can also reduce the sodium content by at least 30 % by draining and rinsing canned vegetables with water prior to use.
8. Fruit canned in water or light syrup keep sugar content down
Select fruit canned in water, own juice, or light syrup. Fruit canned in light syrup can also be drained and rinsed prior to use.
9. Reduce food waste
Too many times, we buy fresh produce planning to prepare a delicious meal but find that there is no time to do so. Unfortunately, by the time you finally decide to do the cooking, you find that the vegetables have begun to spoil in the refrigerator.
Because fresh produce can spoil before you have the chance to eat it, canned fruits and vegetables can be a better option.
On the flip side however, canned produce can also expire if you stock up the pantry with them and do not use them in a timely manner before the “Best By” dates.
10. Cans are environmentally friendly
Canned foods are environmentally friendly because the metal cans can be repeatedly recycled. Food cans are the most recycled package in North America today. Their recycling rate is more than 2.5 times higher than that of most other packaging options.
On a Cautionary Note
Always check for the “Best Buy” or “Use By” date on all canned produce or any other canned foods. These dates give you an idea of how long these items should be stored.
This is important because many people tend to buy canned foods with an understanding that they will not readily spoil and promptly forget them on the pantry shelf!
It is not uncommon to find 3, 4, or even 5-year-old canned produce on some shelves. Furthermore, do not be tempted to “donate” such expired canned foods to charities either!
Every year, two of the charities where I volunteer – Kidney Foundation and Inn from the Cold receive loads of such expired canned foods that must be sorted out and dumped.
Generally, canned foods you buy in the store today are good for at least one year.
The question about how to eat more fruits and vegetables is a simple one to answer. Incorporating canned produce into your diet is a sure way to add more fruits and vegetables into your daily intake.
Joytime (2016) Analysis on the causes of discoloration of canned fruits https://www.jutaifoods.com/Analysis-on-the-causes-of-discoloration-of-canned-fruits_1052.html
Susan Featherstone (2016) A Complete Course in Canning and Related Processes Volume 3: Processing Procedures for Canned Food Products, A volume in Woodhead Publishing Series in Food Science, Technology and Nutrition 14th Edition https://www.sciencedirect.com/book/9780857096791/a-complete-course-in-canning-and-related-processes#book-description