Processed fruits and vegetables are recognized for superb retention of micronutrients. This quality explains why the nutritional value of frozen vegetables and canned vegetables is comparable to that of fresh vegetables at the moment of consumption. Each of these products therefore, make a valuable contribution to a healthy diet.
In most European countries, vegetable consumption remains low and frequently falls short of the WHO recommended minimum intake level of 400g of fruit and vegetables per day. In addition, the consumption of vegetables is decreasing in the EU. National consumption figures show declining consumption for both canned and frozen vegetables, in particular, among younger individuals (< 30 years). This is a worrisome trend within the context of current concerns about public health, poor nutrition and obesity.
A high dietary intake of vegetables and fruits, as a source of vitamins, antioxidants, dietary fiber and phenolic compounds, is associated with protection against a broad range of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Scientific studies confirm that processed fruits and vegetables are a significant contributor to European fruit and vegetable consumption and the intake of essential nutrients in the daily diet. On this basis, public health authorities at the international (WHO/FAO), European and national levels include processed fruits and vegetables in nutritional programs to stimulate vegetable and fruit consumption.
The consumption of processed vegetables can therefore be considered complementary to the consumption of fresh products and helps to improve the fulfillment of nutritional needs of the population. Processed products ensure excellent retention of micronutrients. By canning or freezing shortly after harvest, the vegetables are preserved at peak ripeness and retain most of their nutrients and vitamins. It is worth noting that initial micronutrient levels in fruits and vegetables harvested for processing are high because the crops are harvested at a more mature stage. In fact, research has shown that frozen and canned vegetables usually preserve nutrients more effectively than many fresh vegetables purchased at retail stores. In addition to their excellent nutritional value, the availability of processed fruit and vegetable products, regardless of season or geography, helps to enable all populations to eat well.