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A selection of tinned fruit and vegetables

Top 5 health benefits of canned fruit and vegetables

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Canned fruit and veg are storecupboard staples as they're convenient, budget-friendly and versatile, but are they as nutritious as fresh? We asked registered nutritionist Nicola Shubrook to explain.

What are canned fruit and vegetables?

Canned fruit and vegetables have undergone a process that extends their shelf life. Sealed in an airtight can in water, syrup or juice, unopened canned produce has a shelf life from manufacture of up to five years.

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Most fruit and vegetables undergo this canning process close to where they are picked and within a few hours of harvest, which helps preserve their freshness and nutritional value.

Discover our full range of health benefit guides, then check out some of our easy canned food recipes and canned fruit recipes, from our peach melba smoothie to sweet & fruity Yorkshire pudding.

Tomato & chickpea curry

Nutritional benefits of canned fruit and vegetables

An 80g serving of canned peaches provides:

• 31 kcal / 132 kj
• 0.5g protein
• 7.8g carbs
• 7.8g sugars
• 0.9g fibre
• 136mg potassium
• 5mg vitamin C

An 80g serving of canned potatoes (re-heated) provides:

• 50 kcal / 217 kj
• 1.2g protein
• 0.1g fat
• 12.1g carbs
• 0.9g fibre
• 176mg potassium
• 4mg vitamin C

An 80g portion of canned fruit or vegetable counts as one of your five-a-day, the same amount as fresh fruit or vegetables.

Discover more in our five-a-day infographic.

Top 5 health benefits of canned fruit and vegetables

1. Nutritionally comparable with fresh

For most produce, the canned variety is nutritionally comparable with fresh – there’s certainly little difference in the macronutrients, which include protein, carbohydrates and fats.

In terms of vitamins and minerals, there may be slight variances. Canned fruit and vegetables contain good levels of these nutrients and make a valuable contribution to a balanced diet. However, small amounts of vitamins, especially the heat-sensitive ones like vitamin C, may be lost during the canning process. Fat-soluble vitamins, however, including vitamins E and A, tend to be higher in canned produce like carrots and tomatoes.

2. Makes a cost-effective contribution to your five-a-day

Affordability is an important factor in making fruit and vegetables accessible. Studies suggest that canned fruit and vegetables offer an affordable and nutritious option for meeting daily fruit and vegetable recommendations.

3. Quick and convenient

Canned fruit and vegetables have a longer shelf life, are ready to eat with little or no preparation, and are easy to incorporate into meals.

4. Shelf-stable

Once canned, the produce remains stable thanks to the lack of oxygen – this means there is little change to either the nutritional value or food quality.

5. Safe and free from pathogens

Canning improves the safety of fresh produce, especially those that are likely to harbour pathogens. This is because the canning process uses high levels of heat to prevent the growth of the micro-organisms that may cause food poisoning.

Apricot crumble cake

Are canned fruit and vegetables safe for everyone?

Although extremely rare, there have been some reports of contamination with clostridium botulinum. This typically occurs where the canning process is at fault and is more likely when consumers can their own produce at home. Nevertheless, when buying canned products, avoid cans that are dented, bulging or leaking.

Some canned produce may have salt or sugar added to improve its taste, texture or appearance. Those who follow a low-salt diet or manage their sugar intake should check labels and look for products without added ingredients. When selecting canned fruit, choose options canned in natural juice rather than syrup. Once the can is open, draining and rinsing the contents may help lower the sugar and salt content.

Some reports suggest canned produce may be contaminated with chemical constituents, including metals and BPA (bisphenol-A), the latter of which is associated with heart disease and type-2 diabetes. BPA appears to migrate from the lining of the can into the food contents. Some studies suggest canned fruit (and tuna) have the lowest levels of BPA contamination when compared with other canned products.

Now read:

Are frozen fruit and vegetables good for you?
Is dried fruit good for you?
The health benefits of pineapple
The health benefits of tomatoes


This page was reviewed on 25 February 2022 by Kerry Torrens

Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a Registered Nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in personalised nutrition & nutritional therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.

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All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our terms and conditions for more information.

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