Is Canned Fruit as Healthy?

Is Canned Fruit as Healthy?

September 15, 2019 87 By Ewald Bahringer


“Is Canned Fruit as Healthy?” Food cans used to be soldered
with lead compounds, so much so that people
living off of canned food may have died from
lead poisoning. Thankfully this is no longer
a problem in the United States. Lead contamination was actually
one of the first priorities of the FDA, before it was even called
the FDA back in 1906. It’s great that newspapers now have
online archives going back a century so we can read about landmark
historical events like “FDA Proposes Lead-Soldered Cans
be Banned” way back yonder in 1993? Going into effect in 1995. Evidently it was complicated because
lead solder was grandfathered in as a prior-sanctioned substance. Now that the lead is gone though,
are canned foods healthy? It primarily depends on
what’s in the can. . . If it’s Spam-dandy,
I’d probably pass. Let’s give canned food the
benefit of the doubt though. What about canned fruit? We know fruits and vegetables in general
may help protect us from dying from cardiovascular disease, and
when it comes to preventing strokes, fruit may be even more protective, but whether food processing affects
this association was unknown. This study found that unprocessed
produce, mostly apples and oranges, appeared superior to
processed produce, but that was mainly
orange and apple juice. No surprise whole fruit
is better than fruit juice. What about whole fruit,
just in a can? Dietary guidelines encourage all fruit—
fresh, frozen, and canned— but few studies have examined the health
benefits of canned fruit until now. Canned fruit did not seem able
to enable people to live longer. In fact, moving from fresh or dried fruit to
canned fruit might even shorten one’s life. So maybe dietary guidelines should
stress fresh, frozen, and dried rather than canned.
Why the difference? There’s no more lead, but there
is that plastics chemical, BPA, that is used in the
lining of most cans, which can leach into the food and might
counterbalance some of the fruit benefits. Recently blood levels of this chemical was
associated with thickening of the lining of the arteries going up to the brains
of young adults, for example. Canned fruit is often packed in syrup
as well, with all that added sugar, and the canning process might diminish
some nutrients, potentially wiping out 20 to 40% of the phenolic phytonutrients,
and about half of the vitamin C. You know, maybe one of
the reasons citrus appears particularly protective against
stroke is the vitamin C. It appears the more vitamin C
in our diet, the lower our risk of stroke; and the more vitamin C in our bloodstream,
the lower our risk of stroke. But how did the vitamin C
get in our bloodstream? These people must have been eating
a lot of healthy foods, like citrus, tropical fruits, broccoli,
bell peppers. Therefore, the observed effect
of vitamin C on stroke reduction may simply be a proxy for specific
healthy foods that lower stroke risk. How could we tell? Well, we could just give
people just vitamin C pills instead, and see if they work. And they don’t. Citrus fruits have all sorts of other
compounds associated with lower stroke risk. The whole
is greater than the sum of its parts. You can’t capture Mother Nature in a pill. It’s like the apocryphal
beta-carotene story. Dozens of studies showed that people
who ate more beta-carotene rich foods like greens and sweet potatoes, and
therefore had more beta-carotene circulating in their system
had lower cancer risk. But how much money can
we make selling carrots? So they tried giving people
beta-carotene pills, and not only did they not work; they
may have even caused more cancer. So I assumed this National
Cancer Institute researcher would conclude the obvious:
produce, not pills. But no, maybe we should have tried lower
dose pills, or maybe alpha carotene pills, or pills with other phytochemicals,
or multiple combinations. After all, it is likely that neither the
public nor the scientific community will be satisfied with recommendations
concerned solely with mere foods.