Should I avoid canned fruit?

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - BACKYARD BANTER -

Q: Is canned fruit still healthy or should I avoid this? Many thanks, Maryanne

When it comes to fruit, I pre­fer to en­cour­age choos­ing fresh or snap frozen where pos­si­ble. Dur­ing the can­ning process, the fruit is heat treated, which is nec­es­sary from a food safety per­spec­tive as it kills any or­gan­isms present, but it also de­stroys some nu­tri­ents, par­tic­u­larly vi­ta­min C, as well as in­ac­ti­vat­ing en­zymes that are nat­u­rally present in the fruit.

When fruit is canned it is usu­ally bathed in ei­ther syrup or fruit juice (both of which add sugar), and the fruit can ab­sorb some of the sug­ars from these.

Canned fruit may also con­tain other ad­di­tives such as preser­va­tives, so it’s a good idea to check the la­bel. If you can, choose fresh or frozen.

Nu­tri­ent losses can oc­cur as fruit ages, so for op­ti­mal nu­tri­tion


(and taste!) choose lo­cal pro­duce that is in sea­son. This is a great way to sup­port your lo­cal farm­ers and min­imise food miles, too.

I also like to en­cour­age peo­ple to think about the pack­ag­ing. A tin can – and most are lined with plas­tic – can take any­where from 20 to 200 years to break down. So fresh is al­ways best.

If you love tinned fruit and it nour­ishes you, it’s best to drain the juice and be sure to amp up your in­take of vi­ta­min C-rich veg­eta­bles (such as broc­coli, cau­li­flower, cap­sicum and kale) to en­sure you are meet­ing your vi­ta­min C re­quire­ments.

Q: I’ve read that zinc is good for your skin. What foods are best to eat for zinc? Erin

That’s right, zinc is one of the key nu­tri­ents for great skin health. It is crit­i­cal for wound heal­ing, whether it’s a cut we need to heal or the af­ter­math of a


pim­ple, and its role in pro­tect­ing against dam­age from free rad­i­cals also makes zinc an es­sen­tial nu­tri­ent for any­one who wants to pre­vent pre­ma­ture age­ing of the skin.

The best food sources of zinc are oys­ters from clean wa­ters, liver, beef, pump­kin seeds and sun­flower seeds, and smaller amounts are also found in other seeds, nuts, lentils, chick­peas and eggs.

There are, how­ever, some sub­stances that can in­ter­fere with the ab­sorp­tion of zinc in the body. Other nu­tri­ents such as cop­per and cal­cium can neg­a­tively af­fect ab­sorp­tion, so hav­ing cal­ci­um­rich foods at a dif­fer­ent time to your zinc food sources may help to max­imise your zinc ab­sorp­tion. Fi­bre can also in­hibit ab­sorp­tion, so if you take a zinc sup­ple­ment it’s best to take this away from food. Just be­fore bed is a good time.

Tan­nins in tea and cof­fee bind

zinc which can pre­vent it from be­ing ab­sorbed in the body, so it’s im­por­tant to avoid drinking tea and cof­fee with your meals. Adopt­ing a habit of drinking any bev­er­ages or wa­ter be­tween meals rather than with your meals also helps to sup­port op­ti­mal stom­ach pH.

The stom­ach is sup­posed to be ex­tremely acidic – we need the pH to sit at around 2. Wa­ter has a pH of 7 (neu­tral pH) or greater so drinking wa­ter with meals may po­ten­tially di­lute your stom­ach acid. Sup­port­ing op­ti­mal stom­ach pH is im­por­tant for over­all di­ges­tive func­tion, and it also ben­e­fits zinc ab­sorp­tion as this is known to be en­hanced in an acidic en­vi­ron­ment.

Dr Libby is a nu­tri­tional bio­chemist, best-sell­ing au­thor and speaker. The ad­vice con­tained in this col­umn is not in­tended to be a sub­sti­tute for di­rect, per­son­alised ad­vice from a health pro­fes­sional. See dr­


When fruit is canned it is usu­ally bathed in ei­ther syrup or fruit juice (both of which add sugar) so fresh is al­ways best.

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