EXPLANATION OF TABLES

FRUITS

Fruits provide readily available energy in the form of sugars (both natural and added), as well as some vitamin A and vitamin C, depending on the fruit. Generally, fruits are good sources of fiber, most contributing about two grams or eight to 10 percent of the DRV. Canning and freezing don’t do much to the fiber, so canned fruits are good sources for this vital compound. Choose fruits carefully for vitamins and minerals; but canned, fresh or frozen are comparable.

Applesauce

Applesauce is a good source of fiber, providing 1.5 to two grams per 1/2 cup serving. Applesauce is popular, but should not be regarded as a very good source of either vitamin A or C.

Apricots

Apricots are very good sources of vitamin A (as carotene), providing 35 to 40 percent of the RDI per serving. Canned apricots are approximately equivalent to raw in their vitamin A content, and only slightly lower in vitamin C. Del Monte® brand, for example, provides 40 percent of the RDI for vitamin A and eight percent of the vitamin C, according to the label. The labeled values for Libby's® in juice may reflect conservative estimates of vitamin content or variety chosen by the processor.

Blackberries

Blackberries are very good sources of fiber, providing three to six grams per 1/2 cup serving, making them an excellent source. Canned blackberries provide six to eight percent of the RDI for vitamin C, and more vitamin A than raw berries.

Blueberries

Blueberries provide about two grams of fiber – canned or raw – per 1/2 cup serving. The vitamin A content is low in both raw and canned, because blueberries do not contain any carotenes. The higher vitamin C in fresh blueberries may be due to a varietal difference, as well as the effect of heat processing.

Grapefruit

This breakfast favorite is an excellent source of vitamin C, providing between 30 and 66 percent of the RDI per 1/2 cup serving. Although the canned fruit is lower in vitamin C than the fresh/raw, it is still high. Grapefruit also provides valuable amounts of folate and potassium. In addition, grapefruit is low in fat and calories, providing only about 40 calories per the same 1/2 cup serving.

Mandarin Oranges

According to values from the data bank, canned mandarin oranges are good sources of vitamin C and vitamin A, comparable to raw. The nutrition label for Dole® canned oranges indicates they are good sources of vitamin C, providing 35 percent of the RDI per 1/2 cup serving. No values are shown on the label for vitamin A, implying they do not contain any. But canned mandarin oranges are good sources of carotene, as indicated by the data bank values.

Peaches

A fresh-sliced peach (1/2 cup) weighs less than 1/2 cup of canned peaches. This is primarily because the canned peaches in syrup have absorbed the syrup and, therefore, weigh more and have more calories. Both fresh and canned peaches provide about the same percentage of the RDI for vitamin A (more than 300 percent of the RDI for carotene) and vitamin C, according to the nutrition labels. Values from the data bank are a little lower because they do not reflect actual analytical values as do can labels. Note the high amount of vitamin C in frozen comes from added ascorbic acid, used to maintain color.

Pears

Pears, like apples, are good sources of fiber, providing one to two grams per 1/2 cup serving, whether fresh or canned. The vitamin and mineral content is comparable regardless of form.

Pineapple

Fresh and canned pineapple are both very good sources of vitamin C, providing more than 12 percent of the RDI according to the data bank, and more than 20 percent according to the Dole® label. Calorie content of juice-packed pineapple is comparable to fresh. Canning in heavy syrup doubles the calories, but the vitamin content remains stable.

Purple Plums

This less common, but tasty fruit is a very good, unexpected source of vitamin A – especially canned, providing 20 percent of the RDI per 1/2 cup serving. In general, the vitamin and mineral content is comparable, regardless of form.

Ripe Olives

Botanically, these are fruits, but we use them as a vegetable or garnish. Ripe olives are similar to mushrooms in that their value comes as an addition to recipes, enhancing their color, texture and flavor.

Strawberries

This ever-popular fruit is a good source of vitamin C, providing between 35 and 136 percent of the RDI per 1/2 cup serving. In addition, strawberries are a good source of fiber and iron, providing about two percent and 3.5 percent respectively per 1/2 cup serving.

Sweet Bing Cherries

Sweet Bing cherries are a good source of fiber, providing approximately two grams per 1/2 cup serving. Like many other fruits, raw and canned cherries are not good sources of vitamins or minerals, but add to the color and flavor variety available.

Tomatoes: Stewed and Whole

Canned tomatoes are among the most popular canned "fruits." There is not much difference based on the form (diced or whole) or between canned and fresh-cooked tomatoes. Vitamin A content is similar, and vitamin C content is only slightly lower. Calcium is contributed by the added calcium chloride used to keep the tomato pieces firm. Although it is not on the label, canned tomatoes contain their carotene in the form of lycopene, which nutritionists believe is important in fighting prostate cancer. Some of the convenience products come with and without salt added; so if it is important to monitor sodium intake, choose the low-salt variety.

 

VEGETABLES

Vegetables are more nutrient-dense than fruits and provide more vitamins and minerals per calorie because they have less sugars. Generally, vegetables are good sources of fiber, vitamins A and C, potassium and occasionally folate. Some contribute iron to the diet, an important consideration, particularly for vegetarians.

Asparagus

The canning process usually results in some loss of vitamin C, due to the heat treatment the vegetables receive. In the case of asparagus, the canned form is very comparable and may be higher than fresh-cooked asparagus when comparisons are made on the basis of approximately the same weight of vegetables. Very little of the vitamin A or C is lost, so nutritionally, canned asparagus is very similar to fresh-cooked and frozen asparagus. The folate content – a nutrient identified as being important for pregnant women but not a label requirement – is high, contributing 20 to 48 percent of the RDI per serving.

Beets

Beets, in general, are not very nutrient-dense. A serving of cooked or canned beets provides about five percent of the RDI for vitamin C. But the folate content of beets is good, ranging from 8 to 18 percent of the RDI per 1/2 cup serving. Overall, beets probably add more to the aesthetics of the dinner plate than to nutrient intakes, but their high folate content distinguishes them.

Carrots

Everyone knows carrots provide carotene. And canned carrots are likely to provide at least 100 percent of the RDI for vitamin A as carotene, more than the frozen variety. According to the nutrition labels, Del Monte® carrots provide 300 percent of the RDI for vitamin A, and other brands were similar. Differences between the database and commercial label values may be due to varietal differences or methodologies in determining the vitamin. Some manufacturers may be conservative about their estimations for labeling purposes.

Corn

Corn is a favorite vegetable that provides less than 10 percent of the RDI for vitamin A and C. However, the fact that corn eaters often consume more than 1/2 cup as a serving makes it a reasonable source of vitamin C. Corn also provides folate, between 7 to 12 percent of the RDI, and has high niacin (another B-vitamin not included on the label). Canned, frozen and fresh values are similar.

Green Beans

Green beans are another favorite vegetable that provide relatively small amounts of vitamin A and vitamin C per serving. However, the percent of the RDI provided by canned green beans is comparable to fresh-cooked and frozen. About five to 10 percent of the RDI of vitamins A and C per serving is provided in canned green beans. Since these are popular vegetables, more than one serving is likely to be eaten at a sitting.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are favored vegetables in many mixed dishes. They are valued for their flavor, texture and appearance in enhancing recipes. However, they do provide small amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Peas

Cooked or canned peas provide similar amounts of vitamins A (four to 10 percent of the RDI) and C (10 to 20 percent) and are also a good source of folate and iron.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin A (as carotene), providing over 300 percent of the RDI. And canned pumpkin appears to have much more vitamin A than fresh-cooked pumpkin. This may be due to the fact canned pumpkin has more water cooked out of it than boiled pumpkin, and the varieties used for canning have intense orange color, a sure sign of carotene. Pumpkin is a good source of fiber and adds a little iron and folate to the diet as well.

Spinach

Spinach is an excellent example of a nutrient-dense vegetable. Whether it is cooked, canned or frozen, spinach provides at least 50 percent of the RDI for vitamin A and 15 to 30 percent of the RDI for vitamin C. It also is a good source of iron, calcium and especially folate, whether it is fresh-cooked or canned.

Sweet Potatoes

Canned or fresh sweet potatoes are excellent sources of vitamin A, providing between 200 and 400 percent of the RDI. In addition, cooked or canned sweet potatoes are a fairly good source of both vitamin C and folate.

White Potatoes

White potatoes supply vitamin C in reasonable quantities, whether the product is fresh-cooked or canned. About 15 to 19 percent of the RDI is provided by a serving of canned potatoes. White potatoes also are a fairly good source of folate, providing between 1.7 and 2.4 percent of the RDI.

 

LEGUMES

As a class, beans are an excellent meat substitute and provide good quality protein, as well as many other nutrients. Their contribution to fiber intake is important, and they also are an important iron source, particularly in vegetarian diets.

Black Beans, Black-Eyed Peas, Garbanzo, Navy, Pinto, and Kidney Beans: White and Red

Legumes differ very little in their composition between varieties. In general, beans are very good sources of protein, fiber, iron, folate and thiamin. They are relatively poor sources of vitamins A and C. Data bank values for cooked beans are without salt added, so sodium levels tend to be higher in canned versions.

 

POULTRY AND FISH

These products provide a convenient source of high-protein foods. Like their fresh-cooked counterparts, they are eaten for their protein content, as well as for flavor and texture.

Breast of Chicken, Chunk Light Tuna and Pink Salmon

In general, both poultry and fish are low in sodium and cholesterol. The chicken, tuna and salmon provide between 16 and 26 grams of protein per three-ounce serving. In addition, all three products are relatively low in fat and calories. It is especially important with the canned tuna, that the health-conscious consumer choose the water-packed instead of the oil-packed varieties.


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