Is Canned Fruit Healthy or Not?

Is canned fruit healthy? We have the answer once and for all.

Yes, canned fruit is a good option when you’re craving something out of season. It’s a great way to enjoy the flavor and sweetness of peaches, mandarin oranges and pineapple all year round. But the other contents in the can definitely affect how good it is for you. If you’ve been Googling “Is canned fruit healthy?” we’ve got the answers.

Here’s what you need to know about the canned fruit in your pantry.

Types of Canned Fruit

Canned fruit is usually labeled by what type of liquid is canned with the fruit. Typically, there are three kinds of packing liquid: heavy syrup, light syrup and juice. While there isn’t much difference between the calorie counts of fresh and canned fruit, the packing liquid does have an impact.

Canned fruit in heavy syrup

Heavy syrup contains water, corn syrup and sugar, and it has the most calories of the three. Corn syrup is known as one of the most harmful ingredients in packaged foods. A 15-1/4 ounce can of sliced peaches contains about 10 ounces of fruit and 2/3 cup of syrup, which adds about 200 calories. A half-cup serving has a whopping 25 grams of carbs and 21 grams of sugar, making it more of a decadent dessert than a light snack.

Canned fruit in light syrup

Light syrup is made from water and sugar. A 15-ounce can with light syrup contains about the same volume of peaches (10 ounces) and a little over 1/2 cup of syrup, tacking on about 85 calories. A half-cup serving has 14 grams of carbs and 13 grams of sugar.

Canned fruit in juice

Juice-packed fruits are packaged in juice concentrate that has been diluted with water. A 14-ounce can of juice-packed peaches contains roughly the same amount of fruit and about 1/2 cup of juice for only about 60 additional calories. A half-cup serving has 14 grams of carbs and 13 grams of sugar.

Did you know you can make sorbet with just a can of fruit? Whip up canned fruit sorbet for a light dessert.

Canned fruit in water

We now have a much healthier option when it comes to grab-and-go fruit cups. Canned fruit packed in water is exactly what it sounds like. The diced fruit you love is packed in water to keep it fresh and juicy without the added sugar. A full-cup serving contains just 7 grams of carbs and 6 grams of sugar.

You can have complete control over exactly what’s packed with the fruit if you learn how to can at home.

Which Canned Fruit Is Healthiest?

Due to calorie count and overall nutrition value, water-packed canned fruit is the healthiest choice. The heavy and light syrups are of little nutritional value other than calories and are very high in sugar. The fruit packed in juice contains significantly less added sugar than syrup-packed canned fruit.

What to Consider When Choosing Canned Fruit

When choosing canned fruit, keep an eye out for the sugar content. Fruits are rich in natural sugar, so you don’t need any added sweeteners in the can. The American Diabetes Association recommends buying canned fruit with “unsweetened” or “no sugar added” on its label. Look for fruit packed in 100% juice, water or coconut water for all the flavor without the extra preservatives.

Now that you know which type of canned fruit to go with, it’s easy to make these healthy canned fruit recipes. Looking for more healthy options? Put some canned vegetable recipes on your must-try list.

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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.