The one-word answer to this question is: no. Canned food is not always worse than fresh or frozen. The reason is very simple: being "better" or "worse" depends on a food's overall quality, and canning, freezing, or fresh harvesting are only three aspects of quality. The quality of a food depends on many aspects, not just these three. A canned food might have been organically grown, regionally grown, harvested in season, carefully handled, and minimally processed. It might also have been non-organically grown, subjected to heavy pesticide and fertilizer use, mechanically harvested before ripening, artificially preserved, and canned with direct exposure to lead solder in the can. We chose the World's Healthiest Foods because of their fantastic nutrient concentration, and their widespread availability. But we also have tried to emphasize that you won't be healthy just because you select them. You also have to handle and prepare them in such a way that their natural value is preserved. When deciding in the grocery store whether to take fresh, frozen, or canned, consider the following guidelines:
- If all three options are high-quality (organic and minimally processed), go with the fresh.
- If only one of the options is high-quality, stick with that option.
- If frozen and canned are the only high-quality options, do two things. First, compare the nutritional information provided on the package. Stick with the option that has the superior nutritional content. Second, check the expiration date, and make sure that the option you selected doesn't expire before you plan to use the food.