I have always had a preconception fresh vegetables and fruits are the healthiest options. Though I never really questioned this, I mainly tried incorporating fresher options into my diet. However, through taking a foods course, I learned canned and dried alternatives are equally nutritious. Why is that the case though?
Canned: the purpose of canning vegetables and fruits is to preserve the nutrients in perishable food items. During this process, it will destroy most microorganisms to prevent contamination. By picking vegetables and fruits at their peak freshness, the flavour and the nutrients quality remain relatively the same. Although some water-soluble vitamins may disappear through heating, most nutrients, such as minerals and proteins, are still present.
Dried: the goal of drying foods is similar to canning. It stops spoilage and the bacteria growth while maintaining its nutritional value. There is not a drastic change in nutrients for fresh and dried foods either. Some may even be a better source of fibres and minerals. However, due to the significant decrease in water content through dehydration, they contain more calories than fresh fruits.
Is one better than the other?
A large fraction of perishable food items are wasted due to the microbiological spoilage. Nonetheless, they are all healthy options. Even if fresher foods may spoil more quickly through cooking and storing, canned and dried fruits may have added sugars are their textures may be slightly different. However, if you have difficulties finding fresh foods, canned and dried ones are a great alternative. Not only do they have a longer shelf-life, but they are also convenient to use and are affordable in locations that do not produce these foods.