Open Up a Can of...Nutrition!

Dr Marjorie Freedman

By Dr. Marjorie Freedman, MS, PhD
Associate Professor, San Jose State University

I have been involved in nutrition research and education for more than 30 years. During that time, I have witnessed many fad diets and “of-the-moment” trends. But one piece of advice has remained steady – and smart – for generations: eat more fruits and vegetables! Unfortunately, nine out of ten American children are not eating enough vegetables and six out of ten do not eat enough fruit.

I recently partnered with the Canned Food Alliance to unveil new research demonstrating the important role canned fruits and vegetables can play in an overall healthy diet for America’s children. The study analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2001-2010, which includes information on the eating habits of more than 17,000 American children ages two to 18.

According to the study, when compared with children who did not eat canned fruits and vegetables, kids who did eat canned varieties:

  • Consumed 22 percent more total vegetables
  • Ate 14 percent more total fruits
  • Enjoyed a diet lower in overall dietary fat
  • Consumed 3.7 percent more protein 7.7 percent more fiber, 5.8 percent more potassium, five percent more calcium, and 11.3 percent more vitamin A
  • Had similar sodium intake
  • Had comparable body weight and body mass indexes
  • Did not consume more added sugars

As we work to educate families, schools and institutions about making healthy food choices for children, we can and should advocate consumption of all forms of fruits and vegetables, including canned, fresh, frozen, dried and 100% juice, as this research supports. After all, the more options available in terms of price, seasonal availability, convenience and “rightness” for a given recipe, the more likely we all are to meet the dietary recommendations for these important foods.