Lorre Kolb: Eating healthy; including more fruits and vegetables in your diet. We’re visiting today with Barb Ingham, Extension Food Safety Specialist, Department of Food Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Lorre Kolb. Barb, do fruits and vegetables need to be fresh to be healthy?
Barb Ingham: When people think of nutritious foods, they tend to think of food that’s fresh and that being healthiest. And it is true that fresh fruits and vegetables are nutritionally dense, and they offer an abundance of beneficial vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, but other forms of fruits and vegetables such as canned, frozen, dried or dehydrated, these also can be very healthy.
Lorre Kolb: What has research found as far as fresh versus canned or frozen?
Barb Ingham: There’s actually some newer research, those looked at frozen or canned fruits and vegetables and actually they found that they can compare nutritionally to fresh produce. They looked at a pretty wide variety of fruits and vegetables. They looked at these items when they were fresh from the grocery store and then also as they were purchased from the grocery store either canned or frozen and they found that overall fresh store produce often has a lower nutritional value than canned or frozen. And what they found is that frozen or canned produce is packaged at its peak ripeness. This is a little bit different than fresh produce; so fresh produce in order to find its way to the grocery store, it’s generally picked before it’s ripe and then it’s packaged. And because it has to be stored and transported perhaps for long distances before it finds its way to the grocery store. So if we actually process those produce items into canned or frozen they generally go from the field into their process state within just a few hours. And that short time from the field to the package means that we’ve actually locked in nutritional value.
Lorre Kolb: What should people know about the sodium or sugar content of canned items.
Barb Ingham: So if you want to limit sodium intake in your diet, you can choose no salt added or low or reduced sodium options. And we’re really lucky that these days these are more prevalent in the grocery store. If you can’t find these lower sodium options, they’re just not available or perhaps out of your price range you can simply take the regular canned vegetable then you drain it and then you follow it with a quick water rinse. And actually just by doing that you’ll reduce the sodium content by a whopping 41 percent. If we actually want to limit sugar because that’s more a question perhaps with fruits, we can choose fruits that are canned in fruit juice or those that have a lower sugar syrup. From canned items, if we look at frozen items. Frozen fruits and vegetables are processed almost always without any added salt or sugar. One other advantage of canned or frozen fruits and vegetables is that they’re easy to prepare since the cleaning, peeling, chopping and trimming are already done.
Lorre Kolb: We’ve been visiting today with Barb Ingham, Extension Food Safety Specialist, Department of Food Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Lorre Kolb.
For more information, contact Barb Ingham at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 263-7383 or contact your Winnebago County UW-Extension office at (920) 232-1973.