Fresh, Frozen or Canned Fruits and Vegetables: All Can Be Healthy Choices!

Updated:May 4,2015

woman choosing produce in grocery storeHave you eaten 4-5 servings each of fruits and vegetables today?

The American Heart Association recommends eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other nutritious foods. The good news is that all produce counts, which means canned, fresh and frozen varieties can help you reach your goal.

Here’s how to pick the best produce of the bunch:

  • Canned fruits & veggies are convenient to have in your pantry for times you can’t get to the store; they can even be kept at work (with a can opener) for an afternoon snack. Since they are non-perishable, you won’t waste money when buying canned veggies – which sometimes happens with fresh produce that goes bad.

    • Watch for sodium: Sodium is usually added to canned foods to preserve them. Look for low-sodium, reduced-sodium or no-salt-added labeled foods. Compare the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts label and choose the product with the lowest amount. Drain and rinse canned veggies to reduce more sodium. In fact, draining and rinsing canned beans can reduce the sodium by up to 40%.
    • Watch for added sugar: Look for fruit that’s canned in water, its own juice, or light syrup (drain and rinse).
    • Delicious uses:Add cans of corn, tomatoes and pinto beans or any other vegetable to low-sodium vegetable broth for a super-fast and filling vegetable soup. Use a blender, food processor or a fork to smash canned and rinsed garbanzo beans, northern beans, or any beans into a bean dip for baby carrots; add a little lemon juice and garlic powder for some zip. Serve canned fruit as a dessert topped with nonfat or low-fat yogurt; or top whole grain cereal with canned fruit.
  • Frozen fruits & vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and then flash frozen to preserve optimal nutrition. They last for several months in the freezer and can be a very economical choice.

    • Watch for Sodium: Choose plain frozen vegetables without sauces or seasonings - which can contain added salt and extra calories. Avoid frozen fruits with any added sugars.
    • Watch for added sugar: Choose frozen fruits without any added sugars
    • Delicious uses: Any time you boil pasta, throw in some frozen veggies at the end of the cooking time for added nutrients and variety to a basic bowl of noodles. Whip up a smoothie of frozen fruit, non-fat or low-fat milk and yogurt in a blender until smooth. Mix frozen berries into pancakes, waffles or muffins.
  • Fresh fruits & vegetables are the most portable choices. Whenever you leave the house, get into the habit of stashing a fresh snack in your purse or backpack; think: Apple, orange, banana, or plastic bag of grapes or baby carrots. These snacks will keep you energized and avoid less-healthy (and expensive) snacks at vending machines.

    • Watch for Seasonal Choices: Buy in season for savings. In fall, look for apples, pears, grapes, cauliflower, and broccoli. Winter is the time for citrus fruit and root vegetables. In the spring, look for strawberries, mangos and peas and come summertime, almost everything is in season!
    • Delicious uses:Always top pizza with extra vegetables. Serve unfamiliar veggies with a fat-free, no added sugar yogurt dip as snacks to kids and adults when they are most hungry. Serve a colorful fruit salad for dessert.

Article copyright © 2015 American Heart Association. This recipe is brought to you by the American Heart Association's Simple Cooking with Heart © Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit

Last reviewed 1/2015