Study reveals many canned foods offer more nutrients per dollar than fresh, frozen or dried
PITTSBURGH (May 29, 2012) – When looking to get the most nutrient bang for your buck, look no further than the canned food aisle of your local grocery store. A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences, May 2012, found that not only are most canned foods less expensive than their fresh, frozen and dried counterparts, but many also offer a more convenient way to get much-needed nutrients. For example, when purchase price, waste and preparation time are considered, canned tomatoes cost 60 percent less than fresh tomatoes to get the same amount of fiber.
The study, commissioned by the Canned Food Alliance (CFA), looked at the total cost of commonly used canned food and compared it to fresh, frozen and dried fruits, vegetables, beans and tuna. The research factored in not only actual grocery dollars spent, but also the value of the time required to prepare the food (cleaning, chopping, cooking, etc.) and the cost of the waste (pits, stems, cobs, seeds, etc.). Building on that information, the study authors analyzed the cost-per-nutrient of several key nutrients including protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and folate.
Canned foods contain the same important nutrients as fresh, frozen and dried varieties do,” says lead study author Dr. Cathy Kapica, adjunct professor of nutrition at Tufts University and science advisor to the CFA. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans calls for an increase in fruits, vegetables, fiber, and seafood. This study shows families can help meet their dietary goals and often get the nutrition they need at a lower cost when they purchase canned foods. This is especially true when price, waste and the value of preparation time are considered. Recommendations for achieving a healthy diet, particularly for those with interest in saving time and money, should include all forms (canned, fresh, frozen and dried) of fruits, vegetables, beans and seafood.
Canned Foods Offer Important Nutrients Affordably and Conveniently
Canned foods have long been touted for the ease and convenience they bring to the kitchen. Less well-known is the fact that canned foods offer comparable nutrition as other forms, often for a lower cost. This new research sheds light on the convenience, affordability and nutrition that comes in a can. Some of the findings from the study include:
- Pinto Beans: When the cost of preparation time is taken into consideration, canned pinto beans cost $1 less per serving as a source of protein and fiber than dried beans. This is because it takes about six minutes to prepare a can of pinto beans while it takes almost 21⁄2 hours (soaking and cooking) for dried beans to be meal-ready.
- Tomatoes: It is nearly 60 percent more expensive to obtain dietary fiber from fresh tomatoes than canned tomatoes. Not only is the price of canned tomatoes lower than fresh for the same serving size, but fresh tomatoes take longer to prepare, adding to the real cost of fresh.
- Corn: When looking at purchase price alone, fresh corn is less expensive than canned or frozen. However, when the cost of waste (most notably the cob) is factored in, as well as time to prepare, canned corn offers the same amount of dietary fiber with a 25 percent savings compared to fresh and the same amount of folate with a 75 percent savings compared to fresh.
- Spinach: With a lower cost-per-serving than fresh, canned spinach provides vitamin C and dietary fiber at an 85 percent savings compared to fresh.
- Peaches: The price of a serving of canned peaches is 39 cents less than an equal serving of fresh peaches and $1.10 less than frozen peaches. When factoring in the value of preparation time and cost of waste, a serving of canned peaches cost $2.37 less than fresh and $3.22 less than frozen per serving, making canned peaches a less expensive way to obtain dietary fiber and folate.