The Most Nutritious Way To Buy Canned Fruit

Whether you're looking for an easy snack to pop in your lunch bag, or you want to keep a decent amount of fruit on hand for a road trip, without worrying that it will spoil, canned fruit can be the way to go. However, not all are created equal.

If you want to satisfy your craving and fill your belly with the most nutritious canned fruit, reach for options packed in water instead of heavy syrup, light syrup, or even the fruit's own juice. You can find anything from fruit cocktail and peaches to mandarin oranges and even jackfruit packed in water in full-size cans or, sometimes, even in grab-and-go containers.

The great thing about fruit packed in water is it can retain its own flavor and original nutrients without the added sugar that comes from liquid sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup often used for packing other varieties. In fact, one grab-and-go container of fruit in water can contain as few as 7 grams of carbs and just 6 grams of sugar, making it ideal for nearly anyone who is trying to watch their intake.

Avoid these types of canned fruit

For optimum health, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests consuming two servings of fruit each day. However, the organization also warns against consuming too much sugar, stating in their 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines, "A healthy dietary pattern doesn't have much room for extra added sugars."

The USDA also advises to consume no more than 10% of overall calories in the form of sugar on any day. For a 2,000-calorie daily diet, that equates to 200 calories worth of sugar, or 50 grams.

To see how the packing liquid can affect the amount of sugar in a single serving of canned fruit, take a look at peaches as one example. A serving of canned peaches packed in water with no sugar added contains around 7 grams of sugar. Packed in their own juices or extra light syrup, the amount creeps up to 13 grams of sugar per serving in each of those types of cans. Finally, when packed in heavy syrup, canned peaches can clock in at around 21 grams of sugar per serving, or nearly half of the recommended daily amount.

Why buy canned fruit at all?

Not only is canned fruit great for a convenient snack on-the-go, it can last for awhile in your cabinet. An undamaged can will often last for years, which makes it a good alternative to fresh produce that may spoil quickly in your refrigerator or left on a countertop. Canned varieties are also ideal for keeping around when your favorite fruits are out of season.

Canned fruit tends to be more affordable, too, making it easier for those on a budget to still get the recommended amount into their daily diet. Plus, as is often the case with frozen fruit, canned fruit is often processed quickly after it's freshly picked, so it tends to retain a large quantity of the original nutrients.

There are few reasons not to stock up on your next trip to the grocery store. Just remember to reach for the ones packed in water to avoid a sugar overload — and to avoid the health issues that may come along with it, which may include a greater risk for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, according to Harvard Health.