Canned foods may be more ‘affordable and convenient’ way to get key nutrients

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Canned foods may be more ‘affordable and convenient’ way to get key nutrients
When price, waste and preparation time are considered, canned foods 'almost always' offer a more affordable and convenient way to consume much needed-nutrients, according to the findings of a new survey.

The study – presented at a poster session at Experimental Biology 2012 – reports that despite the fact there is often a ‘bias’ to consume fresh foods for optimal nutrition, the consumption of fresh foods might not always be the best solution for all consumers.

Funded by the Canned Food Alliance, researchers led by Dr. Cathy Kapica at Tufts University, USA, conducted a market-basket study comparing the cost of obtaining key nutrients from canned, fresh, frozen and dried varieties of common foods. The survey revealed that when all areas were considered “canned foods almost always offered a more affordable, convenient way to get needed-nutrients.”

Kapica said that economic concerns have meant many households are challenged to meet dietary recommendations within shrinking budgetary constraints.

"This research should assure families they are getting needed nutrition regardless of whether they choose canned, fresh, frozen or dried varieties,”​ she said. “They can be confident in buying those foods that best meet their budgets, schedules, cooking abilities and taste preferences and still obtain important nutrients."

Survey findings

The market study involved buying, preparing and analyzing canned, fresh, frozen and dried corn, green beans, mushrooms, peas, pumpkin, spinach, tomatoes, pears, peaches, pinto beans and tuna fish.

The foods were all cooked so that an accurate comparison could be made. They were analyzed to determine the cost of several key nutrients, including protein, fiber, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate.

The researchers said that survey revealed that it is, for example, nearly 60% more expensive to obtain dietary fiber from fresh tomatoes as from the same portion of canned tomatoes

“Not only is the price of canned tomatoes lower than fresh for the same serving size, but fresh tomatoes take longer to prepare, adding to the real cost of fresh,”​ said the researchers.

They said that looking at purchase price alone, fresh corn is less expensive than canned or frozen – however, when the cost of waste (most notably the cob) is factored in, as well as time to prepare, “canned corn offers the same amount of dietary fiber as fresh at a 25 percent savings.”

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4 comments

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When you have a problem look for a solution

Posted by Michael,

I agree the best would be to always eat fresh and natural products, but not always easy... Maybe the solution can be in looking for a one layer packaging which assures no migration into the content, long shelf life, full preservation of nutritional qualities and taste, full impermeability to exterior agents? I would propose glass also because consumers largely prefer it and recommend it (according to plenty of studies). See : http://bloginabottle.com/uncategorized/a-taste-of-glass.html . Due to its natural compounds and inertness, food (and drinks) do not interact with it and it preserves the original flavour and taste of the product. On the top of that, glass containers are transparent, re-sealable, and easy to portion and therefore also help reducing food waste.Do not forget glass is also 100% infinitely and easily recyclable as well as refillable and reusable...See : http://bloginabottle.com/uncategorized/a-taste-of-glass.html

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What he said! (Liam)

Posted by Sharon,

I was thinking along the same lines as Liam above as soon as I saw the heading to this article. Sodium content in the majority of canned goods makes them something to use in moderation at the very least.
Also, in a recent study, higher than safe limits of BPAs were found when a person consumed a very well known soup even if only a couple times a week, as proven by a study published in the Journal of AMerican Medical Assoc. (See: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2011/11/22/142672252/eating-canned-soup-makes-bpa-levels-soar )
Urinary BPA concentrations are positively associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
For people that rely on the cost effectiveness and convenience of canned foods in their everyday meals-this can be at the very least unhealthy. If children are consuming the canned foods the risk is even higher.

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"canned food more nutritious?"

Posted by Liam,

Nowhere in this study does it mention the fact that many canned foods also have elevated levels of sodium nor does it mention that the use of BPAs to line cans. Elevated sodium has well documented ill health effects and BPAs are being shown that they are endocrine disruptors, so the bottom line is that fresh and whole is and always will be better. It is very short sighted of this study to not consider the long term health effects and it appears very self serving.

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