Food Q&A: Is Canned Fruit Healthy?
Are there any health benefits to eating canned fruit?
Need ideas for coping with restaurant buffets? Want some good snack ideas? In our Q&A series, WeightWatchers.com nutritionist and food editor Leslie Fink, MS, RD, answers questions about food, nutrition and weight loss.
Q: Sometimes finding delicious fresh fruit is a challenge. Is canned fruit a healthy option?
A: Fresh fruit often makes the most sense in terms of taste, texture and nutritional value. But if it's off-season and you're craving pineapple, there's nothing to lose by eating it canned.
In fact, canned fruit sometimes retains more nutrients than fresh because it's picked fully ripe and then processed right away. Fresh fruit, on the other hand, may have to travel long-distances from farm to your kitchen table. It may suffer from improper storage conditions, and precious nutrients may be destroyed along the way.
When choosing canned fruit, keep in mind:
- Some canned fruits have been peeled (peaches and pears, for example) thereby significantly reducing their fiber content.
- Vitamin C is heat sensitive and can be destroyed in the canning process, so fresh fruit is often a much better source. But heat doesn't bother other good-for-you vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, B vitamins and potassium.
- Some fruits are canned in heavy or light syrup, which adds lots of empty sugar calories. Choose canned fruit packed in its own juice or in water instead.
A few last things to consider: Frozen fruits and dried fruit make great wintertime options, too. Unsweetened frozen fruit (not packed in sugar) retains much of its nutritional value since it's picked and processed rapidly. Use it in everything from baked goods to sauces and smoothies.
Dried fruit has suffered from some vitamin C depletion but it still provides lots of fiber and potassium. Just make sure to watch your portion sizes: Every shriveled raisin used to be a whole grape.