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Why All Forms Matter

The call for increased fruit and vegetable consumption often emphasizes fresh produce, grown locally. There is a misperception that the preservation or processing of fruits and vegetables diminishes nutritional quality. This is often cited as the rationale for the focus on fresh, despite research that shows the nutritional equivalent or, in some cases, superiority of preserved fruits and vegetables compared to cooked or raw produce.

Our advice: Buying a combination of fresh, canned, frozen, dried, and 100% juice maximizes nutrition, minimizes waste, saves money, and assures that there is always a variety of fruits and vegetables available.

Exclusively recommending one form of fruit or vegetable over another ignores the benefits of each form and limits consumer choice.

All forms of fruits and vegetables provide needed nutrients

Fruits and vegetables that are to be canned or frozen are packed within hours of harvest, so their peak flavor and nutritional value are preserved. Due to minimal deleterious oxygen during storage, the nutrients in canned and frozen fruits and vegetables remain relatively stable for consumption, allowing for a longer shelf-life. The way to keep surplus product that is harvested during peak season—a season that may only last a few days or weeks—is to ‘preserve’ it by canning or freezing it. Commercial preservation methods today are even better than grandmother’s, because the industry has learned to optimize conditions so that time and temperature exposures are better than that of grandmother’s kitchen.

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, think all forms and include a colorful variety! Eating and drinking colorful fruits and veggies in all forms provides a wide range of natural vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber important to overall good health. With hundreds of different kinds of fruits and vegetables and thousands of different ways to prepare them, there’s bound to be something to please everyone. So, what are the best fruits and vegetables for consumers to buy? Quite simply, it’s the ones they enjoy, and the forms that best fit into their lifestyle.

From a nutrition and sensory standpoint, recipes prepared with canned and/or frozen ingredients have been rated as comparable to those prepared with cooked fresh ingredients.

Dried fruits are a particularly significant source of dietary potassium and fiber. Depending on the specific fruit, they provide other important nutrients like vitamin A and carotenoids (dried peaches and apricots), vitamin K (dried plums), calcium (dried figs), manganese (dried figs), and boron (raisins and dried plums).

Fresh, frozen, dried, and canned fruits and vegetables contain similar amounts of fiber and minerals. Cooking fruits or vegetables does not destroy fiber or minerals.

Research shows that children and teens who drink 100% juice have higher usual intakes of vitamins A and C, magnesium, folate, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium—all nutrients that have been identified as frequently under-consumed by these age groups.

Some packaged fruits and vegetables may actually contribute more health-promoting antioxidants than their fresh counterparts

Most fat-soluble nutrients, including carotenoids, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E, are higher in processed fruits and vegetables. This is true, in part, because the mild heat treatment in processed products allows for greater bioavailability of lipid-soluble nutrients. Processed fruits and vegetables may also contain greater nutritional value because some processing cultivars are more nutritious than fresh cultivars, as is the case with tomatoes.

One study demonstrated increased amounts of some key anthocyanins in canned blueberries, a powerful antioxidant, compared to the amounts found in fresh and frozen blueberries.

The absorption of lutein found in corn, an antioxidant that may reduce the risks of cataracts and macular degeneration, is also enhanced by heat from the canning process.

Dried fruit is an excellent source of phenolic compounds which contribute to the antioxidant capacity of fruits and vegetables. In fact, the antioxidant capacity is much higher for dried fruit than corresponding values for fresh because the antioxidants are concentrated into a smaller volume during the dehydration process.

Multiple forms of fruits and vegetables mean added convenience and optimal nutrition

ReportToday’s consumers are pressed for time, so healthy products in convenient packages are perfect for busy schedules. Having all forms of fruits and vegetables on hand—fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% juice—makes them accessible, convenient, and ready-to-use when preparing meals and snacks at home.

Some frozen foods come in resealable, easy open/reclose packaging, allowing for longer storage and portion control without waste. Microwaveable vegetables, frozen or fresh, also provide added convenience by allowing food to be cooked right in the package.

Canned foods are cooked during processing, so they are ready to heat and eat or use in a recipe. Similarly, frozen foods require little preparation— they are pre-washed and pre-cut. Both fresh produce and 100% juice can be consumed immediately after purchase with minimal, if any, preparation. Dried fruits and vegetables are easily stored and quickly accessible from the pantry. Dried fruit comes in convenient packages that can be stored
and eaten on the go. They are nutritionally dense and provide a perfect healthy boost.

Using more than one form of fruit or vegetable for a meal or side dish can mean less preparation and cooking time for today’s busy cooks. For example, here’s how to make a quick chili dish: add frozen corn to canned tomatoes and beans, season with fresh herbs, and top with fresh avocado. For a nutritious and easy-to-make beverage in seconds, add 100% juice to frozen berries, along with milk and yogurt, and blend until smooth. Use 100% juice as an ingredient in sauces and marinades, adding variety and nutrition to favorite recipes.

Source:  More Matters


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