Last week, I posted a recipe for vegan corn salad, and I’ve gotten quite a few questions about using fresh ingredients vs. canned ingredients. As a frame of reference, in the recipe, I used only canned food. But would you get more nutritional benefits from using fresh instead of canned? Let’s talk about each one in more depth.
Fresh food: Pros and cons
The pros: If you’re opting for fresh ingredients, you can be fairly certain those items are in season – somewhere. This is especially true if you’re eating local. In fact, fresh, local food are the most nutrient-dense. You might also find that ripe, fresh ingredients have a better texture and taste than their canned counterparts.
The cons: Unfortunately, fresh food doesn’t last that long, and the prep work can take time. Additionally, if they had to travel from the other side of the world, they were not picked at peak freshness. That’s because they’re harvested early so that by the time they reach the grocery store (which could be days or weeks later), they’re ripe for the picking. Fresh ingredients also tend to be more expensive, which can make it more difficult to eat on a budget.
Canned food: Pros and cons
The pros: Canned food is picked at peak ripeness, so you know you won’t have to worry about it being under- or overripe. It also lasts a long time, which means you can buy a variety of foods and wait to use them until you’re ready. Generally (though not always), canned ingredients are cheaper than their fresh counterparts. In terms of ease of use, it doesn’t get much easier than opening a can of your desired fruit or vegetable.
The cons: If you’re planning on stocking up on cans, you’re going to need storage space. Many canned foods contain excess sodium, sugar and other preservatives. Lastly, for some people, canned foods simply do not taste as good as fresh foods do.
Fresh food vs. canned food: The verdict
Eating fresh food versus canned food is a personal preference. If you have the time and money to go fresh, do it. On the other hand, if you prefer a cheaper, more convenient option, canned ingredients may be perfect for you.
When it comes to nutritional benefits from each option, the differences are subtle. It is true that local, fresh produce generally contain the most nutrients. That said, canned foods are picked at the peak of ripeness, which can mean they have more nutrients than fresh food that had to travel for days to reach the store.
In the end, eating canned fruits and vegetables is better than eating no fruits and vegetables at all.
If you have more questions about this, just let me know!
P.S.: For the record, the same list can be made for frozen ingredients. There are pros and cons, which are similar to canned foods.