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dear joan,
Is it okay to eat canned vegetables and fruits? I've heard that canned fruits and vegetables aren't as good, nutritionally, as the fresh variety. Please help.

-- ready with a can opener


dear ready with a can opener,

When it comes to vegetables and fruits, it doesn't matter much in the nutrition department whether it comes in a can, plastic frozen pouch, or fresh from the grocer.

Canned and frozen produce are usually processed soon after being picked, which immediately harnesses their nutrients.

In fact, in some instances, processing may actually enhance the nutrient value of a food. Some research studies suggest that lycopene, a substance that is found abundantly in tomatoes, is better absorbed from processed tomato products, such as tomato paste, than from fresh tomatoes. Lycopene is an antioxidant similiar to beta-carotene that may help fight cancer.

The downside of canned and frozen vegetables and fruits can be the added sodium, sugar, and fat. Look for the low-sodium, no-salt-added, or sugar-free varieties, and those without added sauces.

Whether you enjoy your produce fresh, frozen, or canned, the most important thing is to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, to the tune of at least seven servings daily.

Stay healthy,

Joan

Last reviewed: July, 2005