Rinsing Canned Fruit May Not Be Enough To Reduce The Sugar Content

People instinctively toss canned beans into a strainer and give them a rinse before using them. After all, generations have been told that this helps reduce the sodium content, as high as 40 percent. If you've been doing this with canned fruit, assuming it would similarly rinse off syrup and lower the sugar content, you're onto something — but maybe not as much as you had hoped. 

While washing canned fruit does remove syrup clinging to those chunks of peaches and rings of pineapple, that fruit has been hanging out in the can for a long time; it's nearly impossible to get rid of all the sugar the porous flesh of it has absorbed, and there is no way of knowing just how much remains.

So, should you rinse your canned fruit? Absolutely. It will help lower the sugar content more than not rinsing at all. But ultimately, if you are watching your sugar intake, the better option is to opt for fruit packed in light syrup, just juice or water, labeled with no added sugar, or fresh and frozen varieties.

Why is syrup in canned fruit?

The purpose of the sweet syrup in canned fruit is not just to add sugar — it helps maintain the color, shape, and flavor of the fruit. The fruit itself is as nutritious as fresh or frozen fruit. In fact, canned and frozen fruit are picked and packaged right at their peak freshness. Fresh fruit may spend some time traveling on the back of a truck and sitting on the shelf, losing its maximum nutrient density along the way.

Canned fruit's heavy syrup consists of corn syrup, water, and sugar. One can contain up to 2/3 of a cup of that syrup, which can substantially pack on the grams of sugar and calories. Food dyes and artificial coloring may be added as well. 

Fruit canned in light syrup contains just water and sugar, no corn syrup. It's a better option, but is still pretty high in the sweet stuff. It can contain up to a half cup of the sugary water per can, which is 13 grams of added sugar, according to Taste of Home. Fruit packed in its own juices still contains quite a bit of sugar, but it is natural sugar, not added. Fruit packed in water, clearly, is the best bet for those concerned about their sugar intake.