Results of a new nutrition study show that, more than ever, dietitians, nutritionists and food service professionals can feel confident recommending delicious, healthy meals prepared with canned ingredients.

Canned foods used in recipes certainly taste good and they’ve cornered the market on convenience. Yet there is a misperception, even among health professionals, that canned products don’t stack up nutritionally.

In 1995, the University of Illinois Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition released a comparative analysis of a variety of canned, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables that let a little-known secret out of the can – canned fruits and vegetables are as nutritious as their fresh and frozen counterparts.

In response to queries from health professionals and the media, the University of Illinois has expanded and updated this study in 1997. The new study, called the Nutrient Conservation In Canned, Frozen and Fresh Foods, provides nutritional analyses of about 35 canned fruits and vegetables, as well as poultry and fish.

The new study not only confirms that canned foods are nutritionally comparable to fresh or frozen, but also provides fresh insights into the valuable role canned foods play in the North American diet.

The objective of the study, conducted on behalf of the Steel Packaging Council, was to compare the available nutritional information of canned, fresh and frozen products, both as individual products and as ingredients in five popular recipes.

The information presented came from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data bank and data gathered from labels provided by manufacturers, based on the latest nutrition labeling regulations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The updated study also includes an analysis of vital nutrients not included in the first study – such as folate, potassium and fiber values for all products, as well as thiamin for the legumes.

Fruits: applesauce, apricots, blackberries, blueberries, grapefruit, Mandarin oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, purple plums, strawberries, sweet Bing cherries, tomatoes (stewed and whole) and ripe olives

Vegetables: asparagus, beets, carrots, corn, green beans, mushrooms, peas, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potatoes and white potatoes

Beans: black, black-eyed peas, garbanzo, navy, pinto, red kidney and white kidney

Poultry and Fish: breast of chicken, chunk light tuna and pink salmon

Recipe Analysis: Chili, Peach Cobbler, Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, Spaghetti Sauce and Tomato Vegetable Soup

Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois; 1997

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