New study proves canned peaches are nutritionally equivalent to fresh

An Oregon State University (OSU) study has concluded that nutritionally speaking, canned peaches are equivalent to their fresh counterparts.

The research findings, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, hold that some nutrients increase during the canning process. As lycopene levels increase when tomatoes are canned, some key nutrients in fresh cling peaches are increased by the canning process.

Just as lycopene levels increase when tomatoes are cooked/canned, so too do key nutrients found in fresh cling peaches. The OSU study found that antioxidants, vitamin A, and vitamin C all increased and that folate levels in canned peaches were up 10 times compared to their fresh counterparts.

“We always knew that our canned peaches are nutritious,” said California Cling Peach Board chairman, Sarb Johl. “Now we have the science to back up our claims. This is great news for our industry and should go a long way in dispelling misperceptions about canned fruit nutrition.”

The objective of the OSU study was to assess whether canned peaches could deliver nutrient levels comparable to fresh peaches. Fresh freestone peaches, fresh cling peaches and canned cling peaches were analysed for vitamins A, C and E, folate, antioxidants, total phenolics and total carotenoids to assess how these nutrients were affected by the canning process and whether storage further changed these components.

“Several of the vitamins and phytochemicals measured in this study were found to be present in canned cling peaches versus fresh freestone at statistically significantly higher levels,” said Bob Durst of OSU and the Linus Pauling Institute, who led the research on this project.

“Additionally we found that there were no statistically significant changes in nutrient content during storage for three months. It appears that the canning process elevates and activates some of these key nutrients and that the actual package–the can–seals in these higher levels, which is a very good thing for lovers of canned peaches.”

Durst, who is well aware of the misperceptions associated with canned fruit, further notes, “This study shows that canned peaches can provide comparable nutrient levels to the consumer as fresh peaches, meaning that consumers can enjoy peaches year round without worrying about loss of nutrients in their diet.”

Like many grower groups, the California Cling Peach industry partners with the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) and will be working with this nutrition group and others to communicate OSU’s findings to a larger audience.

Christine Bruhn, PhD and Director of the Center for Consumer Research at the University of California Davis (UC Davis), believes “consumers are looking for authenticity, quality, freshness cues, unique flavours, and a narrative,” she says.

“The OSU study clearly tells a compelling nutrition story. And we applaud the California Cling Peach Board for leading the charge with this research. Here’s what we know: kids need from 2-5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day, and adults need 6 cups each day. Literally ‘half your plate’ should be fruits and veggies. This research is consistent with research conducted by UC Davis that says we all need to eat more fruits and vegetables and in all forms: canned, fresh, frozen, dried and 100% juice: they all count,” Bruhn stresses.

“Unfortunately, most kids and adults only eat about half of what they need. Plain and simple: more matters. This research, I believe, will give moms the green light to serve canned peaches more often.”

With the increased awareness about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, consumers are searching out affordable, wholesome, nutritious, yet convenient options for themselves and their families. Grown up and down the state of California, cling peaches are handpicked and packed within hours of harvest. In response to consumer demand, the industry now features peaches in extra light syrup, which boasts the same sugar levels as a juice pack. “With no preservatives or artificial additives, today’s canned peaches use the same recipe that my grandmother used: sun-ripened peaches, water and a bit of sugar,” notes Durst. “Just right.”

Journal Reference:

Nutritional content of fresh and canned peaches

  1. Robert W Durst, George W Weaver

Article first published online: 11 SEP 2012, DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.5849

See/hear more of this research here…