February is Canned Food Month, which makes it the perfect time to explore the dozens of canned vegetables on our shelves and discover how they fit into your snacks, meals, and desserts — and for less than the fresh vegetables in the produce section.
Healthier Eating Is a Common Resolution
Every new year, many of us begin thinking about eating healthier. We go to our VG's Grocery with our list in hand and stock up on fresh vegetables. We take them home with big plans, but what happens when we don’t have time to cook? Our lovely fresh veggies sit. Sometimes they sit so long they go bad, and we throw them out. If this sounds familiar, you know that fresh food can be expensive, which makes tossing your veggies a waste on two fronts. Don’t you wish your fresh vegetables lasted a little longer?
In our quest to eat healthily and not waste food, we might be overlooking the perfect answer: canned vegetables. Of course, you may ask, “Aren’t fresh vegetables better for me?” — but the answer will likely surprise you. The vitamins and minerals in both fresh and canned vegetables are nearly the same at the time of purchase. This seems to go against everything we’ve ever been told, but I assure you it’s true. Let’s take a closer look!
Fresh Vegetables Lose Nutrients During Transport
Fresh vegetables are perfectly ripe when you come to the produce section at your VG's Grocery to buy them. This means that farmers had to harvest them slightly early so they could be ready for you to add them to your cart at the store. Many of these farms are local, which means the vegetables only had to make a short trip from the field to the shelf. Some, however, are farther away, which obviously means they had a longer journey. The time it takes for fresh vegetables to reach your cart is important because they lose nutrients between being harvested, transported, and stored — which, as it turns out, is roughly the same amount of nutrients lost during canning.
Canned Vegetables Are Surprisingly Nutrient-Rich
Canned vegetables are picked at peak ripeness, and although vegetables do lose some of their nutrients during canning, they maintain the remaining nutrients during storage. Again, this loss is comparable to fresh veggies during the time between harvesting and consumption. This means canned vegetables have roughly the same vitamins and minerals on the first day of storage as they do a month later. That’s right: canned vegetables can sit on a shelf in your cupboard for a week, a month, or even several months and still have the same nutritional value they did on the day you bought them at your VG's Grocery.
Canned or Fresh, Americans Need to Eat More Veggies
Most Americans don’t eat enough vegetables for a variety of reasons. Buying fresh vegetables can be expensive, especially when they’re not being eaten, and many people just haven’t acquired the taste despite a lifetime’s worth of lectures from friends, parents, and doctors. Still, having canned vegetables on hand allows you to serve healthy veggies without having to rush to plate them or compromise your recipes.
Whenever people ask me which vegetables they should buy, I always have the same response: “The best vegetables are the vegetables you’ll actually eat!” So visit your VG's Grocery today to see the wide variety of fresh and canned vegetable options available in our produce section and on our shelves.
*Pro-Tip: While the no-salt-added cans are the most nutritious, it’s still healthier to eat the veggies with a little bit of added sodium than not eat veggies at all!
This medical and/or nutritional information is not intended to be a substitute for individual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
This blog was authored by Tresa Mauric B.S. who is a current Dietetic Intern at Western Michigan University and soon to be Registered Dietitian.
Stephanie Edson - Regional Wellness Specialist
Stephanie is an award-winning registered dietitian who believes in empowering every individual to make nutritious food choices to support a healthy lifestyle. She believes in the power of food as medicine and loves sharing about nutrition with others.