We always hear fresh is best or shop the perimeter of the grocery store but what about the canned fruits, canned vegetables, soups, or canned proteins in the middle of the store? You should browse the canned foods aisle in the grocery store. Should you avoid canned foods? No! Canned foods can be nutritious and affordable staples in your house. There are numerous canned foods on the market that are good for you!
Canned Foods Are Healthy
Canned foods are minimally processed making them a healthy and delicious alternative to fresh and frozen versions.
The canning process differs based on the product, but canning facilities are usually located near the point of harvest. The process may involve washing, peeling, blanching, shelling, or heating (1). Visit the Canned Food Alliance to learn more about the canning process. Canned foods are safe to eat because the canning process uses high levels of heat to preserve the food which prevents foodborne illnesses.
Canned Food Benefits
Nutrition, convenience, value, versatility, and taste are the major benefits of eating canned foods. Fruits and vegetables lose little of their essential nutrients when going through the canning process. A 2015 study found that frequent can users had a higher intake of vitamins and minerals including fiber than infrequent users (2).
Also, canned foods shorten preparation time. Canned goods are available year-round so you can eat fruits and vegetables out of season, stock up for months and buy in bulk. Unsure of the taste? Try a few different brands to see which ones you like best.
Healthy Canned Foods
Nearly any food can be canned but some of the most popular canned foods are fruits, vegetables, beans, and seafood.
Healthy Canned Fruit
Fruits are canned in heavy syrup, light syrup, juice, or water. Buy your canned fruit packaged in water or 100% juice instead of syrup to lower your calorie and sugar intake. Canned fruit is a great source of vitamins and minerals. Eat your fruit right out the can, make a fruit yogurt parfait or try canned pineapple in fried rice or mandarin oranges in a salad.
Healthy Canned Vegetables
Canned vegetables are available seasoned, with sauces, mixed with other vegetables, and in a variety of cuts. The most common canned vegetables are corn, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, and peas (1). Look for low sodium or no added salt canned veggies. The vitamin and mineral content of canned vegetables are like fresh or frozen vegetables. Try canned vegetables in a soup, stew, chili, casserole, or salsa.
Healthy Canned Proteins
Canned tuna and chicken are the more popular canned proteins, but beans, salmon and sausage are other canned protein options. Canned seafood is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D.
Use canned tuna to make tuna salad, use canned chicken for a casserole or use beans for a chili or in a bean dip. No sodium beans unavailable? Buy the regular beans and rinse them at home before preparing to reduce the sodium. Rinsing and draining your beans can remove 40% of the sodium (2).
Food Storage for Canned Foods
Properly storing canned goods extends their shelf life and reduces the risk of food poisoning.
Storing Canned Foods
Keep your cabinets and pantry clean, dry, and cool. Use the FIFO (first in, first out) method. Place newer cans in the back of your cabinets and pantries. Once opened, transfer canned foods to an airtight container and refrigerate. If stored properly, most unopened canned goods can be stored for up to two years!
Keeping Cans Safe
Discard any cans that are cracked, leaking, or bulging. This could be a sign of spoilage that could lead to possible food poisoning. Keep cans away from heat-producing appliances and out of warm temperatures. Storing foods at warmer temperatures can lower the quality.
Adding Canned Foods to Your Diet
Are canned foods healthy? Yes! The low cost, long shelf-life, convenience, and nutritional benefits make canned foods an important part of a healthy diet. Canned foods never go out of style and should be a healthy staple in any diet! What canned foods do you keep in your kitchen?