Canned food is food that has undergone heat sterilization while being enclosed in a container such as aluminum or tin. In most places, canned foods are less expensive and are far more readily available than fresh ones.

Fresh Food

Fresh foods, like produce, have been generally preferred primarily because it is served at tables and consumed while its appearance has still been unchanged and a majority of its nutrients are still present.

However, it is important to take note that in order to be sold in stores, fresh produce has to be transported for long hours and stored, before they are displayed on store shelves. During this time, some of the nutrients of the fresh produce evaporates and thus it is possible that the nutrient content of the produce from when it was picked to the time that it was sold is not the same.

Canned Food

Canned foods are infamous for having a high content of sugar and salt. Unarguably, there are canned foods that have added sugar and salt. However, not everything is bad when it comes to canned food.

Canned produce is generally packed immediately after it is harvested. Thus, the nutrient content of canned produce is more or less the same as that of produce that has been freshly harvested. There have even been cases where the amount of a particular nutrient is higher when it has been canned than when it was first harvested, as in the case of pumpkins where the canned variety contains more vitamin A than fresh ones.

Generally, contamination problems are rare in canned foods as the processes involved are highly efficient and is of worldwide standards. The small percentage of contamination problems are largely due to leaks in the container, or if the container itself has not been properly sterilized. Another concern consumers have about canned food is the possible toxic elements present in the container that might mix with the food after being exposed for a long amount of time. This is also a possibility and there have been instances where this has happened. Avoiding these cases is one of the reasons why food-manufacturing companies are very strict in implementing food safety practices and quality control processes.

Which is Better?

There is no question that food freshly harvested generally contains more nutrients than canned ones. However, with the advancement of food technology, it is now possible for canned foods to compete with fresh ones in terms of nutrient content. If fresh food is readily available, then definitely it would be the preferred choice. However, in the absence of fresh food, eating canned ones is not a bad thing.