Is Fresh Produce Really Better?
For years, the food industry has been telling you that canned produce is just as healthy as fresh. The truth is, they’re right… sort of. But only when you look at the question a certain way.
Here’s the unvarnished truth about the food you’re eating… and why fresh really beats canned hands-down.
First, processing destroys some of the nutrients in food. This is especially true for vitamins B and C because they’re water-soluble. Vegetables lose a lot of these vitamins when they’re cooked at high heat before canning. 1
Studies show canned carrots, for example, have lost almost twice as much vitamin C as fresh by the time you serve them.2
And that’s comparing them to “fresh” produce that isn’t really fresh. Supermarket vegetables are usually several days – or even several weeks – old by the time you buy them. Exposure to air has already robbed them of some nutrients. Genuinely fresh produce – from your own garden or a local farm stand – will have even higher levels of B and C.
But nothing beats fresh organic produce for nutrition. For example, a 4-year study from the European Union found organic produce contains up to 40% more antioxidants than non-organic. Organic vegetables also have higher levels of important minerals, such as iron and zinc.3
What’s in your produce isn’t the only consideration. Sometimes better nutrition includes what isn’t in a food, too. And here’s where fresh produce has a huge advantage.
Most canned vegetables are processed with salt. A lot of salt. Canned asparagus, for example, has about 6 times more salt than fresh. And canned lentils have nearly 10 times the salt of fresh.4 No wonder most Americans get too much sodium!
But salt isn’t the worst addition to canned foods. That honor goes to something found in the can itself: BPA. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used to make the lining of most food cans.
BPA is also a xenoestrogen. These are chemicals that act like the hormone estrogen. And BPA is one of the worst. It’s been likened to heart problems, blood sugar trouble, pregnancy complications,5 and reproductive problems in both men6 and women.7
BPA has some serious effects on children, too. According to a report from Indiana University, it can affect behavior and growth… and trigger early puberty.8
BPA is used in the lining of nearly every can on your grocery store’s shelves. And research shows that up to 100% of it leaches into the food in those cans.9
So when the food industry tells you canned vegetables are as nutritious as fresh, they’re taking a very narrow view of nutrition.
To get more nutrition from your produce, buy from local growers whenever possible. Locally grown organic produce is even better.
But for the best nutrition available, grow your own organic fruits and vegetables – and eat them fresh from the garden. There’s simply no better way to give your body the nutrition it needs.
Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
Best Life Herbals
1 Rickman J, et al. Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Part 1. Vitamins C and B and phenolic compounds. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Volume 87, Issue 6, pages 930–944, 30 April 2007.
2 Barret DM. Maximizing the Nutritional Value of Fruits & Vegetables. Center for Excellence in Fruit and Vegetable Quality, University of California, Davis, p 43.
4 Rickman JC, et al. Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables II. Vitamin A and carotenoids, vitamin E, minerals and fiber. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Volume 87, Issue 7, pages 1185–1196, May 2007.
5 Allard P and Colaiácovo MP. Bisphenol A impairs the double-strand break repair machinery in the germline and causes chromosome abnormalities. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Nov 23;107(47):20405-10. Epub 2010 Nov 8.
6 Meeker JD, et al. Urinary bisphenol A concentrations in relation to serum thyroid and reproductive hormone levels in men from an infertility clinic. Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Feb 15;44(4):1458-63.
7 Mok-Lin E, et al. Urinary bisphenol A concentrations and ovarian response among women undergoing IVF. Int J Androl. 2010 Apr;33(2):385-93. Epub 2009 Nov 30.
8 Erler C, and Novak J. Bisphenol a exposure: human risk and health policy. J Pediatr Nurs. 2010 Oct;25(5):400-7. Epub 2009 Jul 9.
9 Goodson A, et al. Migration of bisphenol A from can coatings–effects of damage, storage conditions and heating. Food Addit Contam. 2004 Oct;21(10):1015-26.