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Findings from a recent Michigan State University (MSU) reveal the key role that canned fruits and vegetables play in helping Americans boost these intakes, regardless of geography or income level. The study, Nutrition and Cost Comparisons of Select Canned, Frozen and Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, analyzed more than 40 scientific journal studies and nutrition data, comparing canned fruits and vegetables to fresh and frozen based on nutrition and cost.
In response to these findings, the Washington, D.C.-based Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI), the national trade association of the metal can manufacturing industry and its suppliers in the United States, issued a list of the main reasons that consumers should purchase canned foods, using the acronym “S.H.E.L.F.,” which stands for:
- S -- Safe: The MSU analysis concluded that canned foods are a safer option for produce, due in part to the canning process, which creates a barrier to microbiological contamination.
- H -- Healthy: The study discovered that nutritionally, canned foods are equal to, and in some cases better than, fresh and frozen. For instance, canning tomatoes improves their B vitamins, vitamin E and carotenoid content, and fiber, a nutrient of concern in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, becomes more soluble and therefore more useful in the human body, through canning.
- E -- Ease of preparation: Canned fruits and vegetables are easy to prepare and incorporate into meals, or can be eaten on their own. They’re not subject to seasonality or refrigeration requirements, also making them easily accessible to all.
- L -- Long shelf life means that canned foods are perfect staples to stock up and have on hand anytime.
- F -- Financial benefits: Canned foods stretch hard-earned dollars, saving up to half the cost of frozen and 20 percent of the cost of fresh. For instance, fresh green beans are estimated to be 500 percent more expensive than canned.
“Canned foods can be a terrific option to easily and inexpensively incorporate great-tasting nutrition into healthy meals,” said Patricia Bannan, author of “Eat Right When Time is Tight.”
Further highlights of the MSU study are available online.