Which is healthier canned vegetables or fresh

Fresh, frozen or canned - which fruits and vegetables are healthier?

Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy diet. However, when the range of local fruit and vegetables becomes smaller in the cold season, the question quickly arises whether we should rather go for frozen goods. And what about canned vegetables? Are there any vitamins left? We give tips for healthy shopping.

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Low in calories, but rich in vitamins, minerals as well as fiber and secondary plant substances - these properties make vegetables and fruits so valuable for our health and well-being.

Numerous studies show that people who eat a lot of vegetables and fruits are less likely to be affected by high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes. There is also evidence that other diseases, such as cancer or dementia, occur less frequently with increased consumption of vegetables and fruits.

In addition, most vegetables and fruits are foods with a low energy density due to their high water content. This means they are filling well and at the same time are low in calories.

Anyone who wants to get their daily dose in the cold season is faced with the question: Are there enough fresh goods or do I have to use frozen food or even canned food? And what are the differences in terms of nutritional values?

Fresh is not always fresh

"Freshly harvested vegetables have the highest nutritional content," says Astrid Donalies from the German Nutrition Society (DGE) in Bonn. The fresh version scores with a high content of vitamins, minerals, secondary plant substances and fiber.

But not all fresh vegetables are created equal. It would be ideal if our vegetable food lands directly from the field, tree or bush in the pot or on the plate. Because only fruit and vegetables harvested when they are ripe have the full range of vitamins and minerals. Fresh vegetables should therefore be eaten within the next three days.

However, this rarely happens. There is often a long or improper storage time between harvest, purchase and consumption, so that fresh goods can quickly lose vitamins.

Overheating the food can also cause nutrients to be lost. When cooking, consumers should therefore always make sure that the vegetables stay crisp.

If fruit and vegetables are also imported from distant countries, there are generally long transport routes and the advantages of freshly harvested food are quickly lost. Fruits that are harvested immature and only ripen during transport, as is often the case with imported goods, cannot keep up with freshly harvested products in terms of nutrient content.

In addition, fewer pesticides are usually used for regional and seasonal products. In short: Fresh fruit and vegetables should be regional and seasonal as possible in order to be able to offer a maximum of nutrients.

Frozen food: shock freezing is unbeatable

In terms of nutritional content, frozen foods have long been considered a poor choice. In the meantime, however, it is clear: The vitamin losses in frozen goods are much lower than was commonly assumed.

The fruit or vegetables are shock-frozen freshly harvested, thereby preserving the vitamins and other nutrients. "With spinach, which is processed and gently frozen a few hours after harvest, the loss of vitamins is minimal," explains Astrid Donalies from DEG.

However, when making a purchase, you should be careful to use unprocessed fruit and vegetable products. The further a product is processed, the more additives it contains.

So it is better, for example, to buy frozen fruits that are not additionally sweetened, or to give preference to pure spinach over creamed spinach. "Then you can decide for yourself how much cream and salt you add," says Astrid Donalies.

The disadvantages of frozen food: You have to accept slight changes in appearance and taste compared to fresh produce. Another negative factor is the high energy consumption due to deep-freeze storage.

Canned tomatoes are better than fresh ones

Canned food is also better than its reputation. Canned food can be kept for years, so vegetables and fruit are always available and you can stock up on them.

The nutritional values ​​of canned fruit and vegetables are lower than those of frozen goods and freshly harvested vegetables, because they have to be heated at least twice to make them durable.

"But now and then it can also be canned food," said Donalies from DGE. "Canned vegetables are better than none at all."

For tomatoes, for example, canned food is an excellent alternative. It sounds like a contradiction at first: Canned vegetables can't be healthier than the fresh variety? But it is actually true with pureed tomatoes, canned tomatoes and tomato paste.

Compared to fresh tomatoes, they contain more lycopene available for the body, a phytochemical that is said to reduce the risk of various types of cancer and is known as a radical scavenger - this means that it can neutralize certain reactive molecules in the human body.

This advantage of canned tomatoes comes from the fact that they are usually only harvested when they are ripe. In addition, the lycopene becomes more available through heating, as the fruit cells are opened up.

A disadvantage of canned food, on the other hand, is the added additives. As a rule, stabilizers, spices and often sugar are added during processing.
So here you should pay close attention to what is actually in the can.

Sources used:

  • Conversation with Astrid Donalies from the German Nutrition Society
  • Chemie.de: Lexicon: Lycopene
  • Deutsches Tiefkühlinstitut e.V. Study on different types of vegetables