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Is Canned Fruit Healthy? Here’s What Dietitians Say – EatingWell

6 minutes, 1 second Read

Ever wondered if reaching for that can of peaches or pineapple is a good choice for your health? In this deep dive, we’ll talk about the health benefits of canned fruit, debunk common misconceptions and provide practical tips for incorporating canned fruit into a healthy diet.

Let’s explore how canned fruit can be a convenient, nutritious and budget-friendly option for your daily fruit intake.

Canned Fruit Nutrition

“We hear it all the time, ‘Fresh is best,’ but canned fruits can be just as nutritious,” says Chelsea LeBlanc, RDN, owner of Chelsea LeBlanc Nutrition in Nashville, Tennessee.   

Canned fruits provide carbohydrates for energy, fiber for digestion and vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy. Let’s break down the nutritional information of three popular canned fruits, coming from the USDA’s FoodData Central.

Peaches

Here is the nutritional information for a 1-cup serving of peaches canned in peach juices, per the USDA:

  • Calories: 120
  • Carbohydrates: 30g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3g
  • Total Sugar: 30g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Total Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 10mg
  • Vitamin A: 60mcg
  • Vitamin E: 1.1mg
  • Potassium: 290mg

Pineapple

Here is the nutritional information for a 1-cup serving of pineapple canned in pineapple juices, per the USDA:

  • Calories: 140
  • Carbohydrates: 35g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2g
  • Total Sugar: 33g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Total Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 5mg
  • Vitamin C: 18mg
  • Magnesium: 43mg
  • Potassium: 352mg

Pears

Here is the nutritional information for a 1-cup serving of pears canned in pear juices, per the USDA:

  • Calories: 130
  • Carbohydrates: 34g
  • Dietary Fiber: 4g
  • Total Sugar: 30g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Total Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 10mg
  • Vitamin C: 3mg
  • Copper: 122mcg
  • Potassium: 190mg

All of these fruits are good sources of micronutrients like potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and more. And, since they are canned without syrup, they do not contain any added sugar. Plus, each offers an impressive amount of fiber to help support heart health and healthy digestion. 

Health Benefits of Canned Fruits

They’re Budget-Friendly. 

Canned fruits are almost always less expensive than fresh fruit, making them a more cost-effective option for those on a budget. Plus, since they last for years to come, you don’t have to worry about rapid spoilage and wasting food. Opting for store brands, rather than higher-priced name brands, is another great way to help your dollar go further. 

They’re Preserved at Peak Ripeness.

Did you know canned fruits are picked at their peak ripeness and then canned within a matter of hours? This helps ensure that they retain peak nutrition and flavor for whenever you’re ready to enjoy them. LeBlanc affirms, “Since they’re packed at the peak of freshness, you can keep eating those juicy summer peaches all year long!”

They’re Packed with Nutrients.

Just like fresh and frozen fruits, canned fruits are a great source of essential nutrients like fiber, vitamins and minerals. According to a 2019 umbrella review published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, fruits and veggies support our overall health and help reduce the risk of certain diseases like cardiovascular disease and cancer.

LeBlanc even points to a recent 2020 review published in Nutrients that showed upping your fruit and vegetable intake (including canned fruits) might promote better mental health. The study showed high intakes of these produce items may promote greater optimism, less stress and fewer depression symptoms. However, since the studies in this review used different methods, comparing their results is not always straightforward and more research is needed to help clarify the relationship.

They’re Convenient. 

Canned fruits can be a huge time-saver with little to no prep work involved. 

LeBlanc points out, “The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults eat 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit each day, but only 1 in 10 Americans are eating enough fruits and veggies. Canned fruits make it easy to meet these recommendations. They’re pre-cut and ready to eat—saving you valuable time washing, peeling and chopping.”

This makes canned goods ideal for older adults, those with reduced mobility, those who lack kitchen facilities and busy professionals who are pressed for time.

Tips for Including Canned Fruit in a Healthy Eating Pattern

Canned fruits can absolutely be a healthy addition to your eating pattern, but there are a few things to look out for. Here are some tips on how to incorporate canned fruits into your healthy eating pattern: 

  • Choose Fruit in Water or Natural Juice: Opt for canned fruits in water or their own juice rather than sweetened syrups to avoid added sugars. Need more pointers when it comes to picking out canned foods? Read our full guide.
  • Don’t Dismiss Store Brands: There’s a common misconception that store brands are lower quality compared to their branded counterparts. However, this is far from the truth. In reality, companies such as Pacific Coast Producers, which supply store-brand products, are committed to following the best practices in the industry. Notably, Pacific Coast Producers takes pride in how their tomatoes are picked off the vine and canned in less than 5 hours. Grocery stores nationwide have affordable canned options, which can allow you to enjoy nutritious fruits and vegetables with less financial strain.
  • Add Canned to Your Recipe Routine: Normally use fresh fruits in your smoothies, salads, desserts and parfaits? You can easily swap for canned fruits to save money, time and prep work. We also love using canned fruit in recipes like Easy Peach Cobbler and Cabbage, Tofu & Edamame Salad.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it OK to eat canned fruit every day?

Canned fruit can definitely be a part of your daily diet. Just make sure to eat a variety of fruits for balanced nutrition alongside ample vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats.

2. Is canned fruit as healthy as frozen?

Canned fruits have often been mislabeled as less nutritious than their fresh or frozen counterparts. In reality, canned fruit can be just as nutritious as frozen. LeBlanc explains how the fruit used for canned goods are, “picked and packed at the peak of freshness, locking in their nutrients.”

In fact, a study published in Journal of Food Science showed that after just 3 months, the antioxidant levels in canned apricots were a surprising 47% higher than the fresh ones. “So, the next time you grab a can of fruit, you can feel confident that you’re getting a major nutrition boost! Just be sure to look for fruits canned in water or fruit juice versus syrups to cut back on added sugars,” LeBlanc advises. 

3. What should you avoid when buying canned fruits?

It’s best to avoid canned fruits in heavy syrup or with added sugars. That being said, fruit is only beneficial to your health if it’s actually eaten. So if a small amount of syrup is what makes the fruit enjoyable for you, then it’s perfectly fine to choose that option on occasion.

The Bottom Line

Canned fruits offer a healthy, convenient and affordable way to up your daily fruit intake. Plus, they are nutritious and flavorful options that are available right in your pantry whenever you want to add some natural sweetness to a meal or snack. Try to choose fruits canned in water or without added sugar when you can, and you can swap them in for fresh fruit in many smoothies, salads, breakfasts and more. 

Up Next: I’m a Dietitian & These Are My Favorite Recipes Using Canned Foods

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