Are Fresh Vegetables Healthier Than Frozen or Canned?

The short answer from a dietitian
fresh vegetables and canned

Is it always best to choose fresh vegetables? Are frozen and canned vegetables less healthy?

A: Fresh isn’t necessarily always best. Sometimes fresh vegetables you buy in the grocery store have traveled from a very long distance. After they get picked and packed and transported over the course of several days, they lose some of their nutrients. So frozen vegetables could actually be a better option. They are picked and frozen within hours of being harvested, so they’re going to retain a lot more of their nutrition that way.

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Local produce that is grown close to you is also a great, nutritious and cost-effective option. Something you buy at your local farmers market could have been picked that morning, or the day before, so it’s likely fresher than what you’d buy at the supermarket.

Canned vegetables have a very long shelf life. The downside is they often contain sodium. But, you can choose lower sodium versions or rinse your canned vegetables in a colander under running water to get some of the salt off.

So people don’t necessarily have to shy away from canned vegetables. If that’s what you have, use it up. And actually, when it comes to tomatoes, canned tomatoes are going to be healthier than the raw version. Canned tomatoes have been heated, and that increases the amount of lycopene in them that the body can absorb, which is good for eye health.

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— Beth Czerwony, MS, RD, CSOWM, LD

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