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Q: Are canned vegetables and fruits as nutritious as fresh?

Posted February 19, 2014 in Advice Column

A: In the canning process, food is sealed into an airtight, cleaned and sterilized container using heat to kill bacteria and other microorganisms that cause food to spoil.  Over the years, the processing conditions have been dramatically refined so the best texture, flavor and nutrition are retained in canned foods.  Myths about canned foods are abundant. Here is some “food for thought” to help reveal the truths:

Myth No. 1: Canned food is high in sodium.     
Fact: No sodium (or other preservative) is needed to make canned food safe. Salt is added simply to enhance the taste. In fact, “no sodium” and “low sodium” options are readily available for many products. Draining and rinsing canned food before use reduces sodium levels 23 – 40 percent, according to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Myth No. 2: All canned fruit is high in sugar.    
Fact: Besides those fruits canned with heavy and light syrups made with added sugar, many canned fruits are available packed in their own juice or water. Just as with rinsing added sodium from vegetables, rinsing fruit before serving can reduce the amount of added sugar.

Myth No. 3: Fresh food is best.     
Fact: In a University of California-Davis study, researchers found when a food is eaten, regardless of being fresh, (frozen) or canned, the nutrient levels are not significantly different.

Information provided by Shelley Woodall, RD, LD, Hy-Vee Dietitian, 823 Second St., Webster City, 515-832-3117,

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