Insider’s Viewpoint: Healthy Meals? They’re in the Can!
Canned foods are convenient, nutritious and oftentimes more affordable than their fresh counterparts. Plus, the canning process can increase the availability of certain nutrients found in vegetables such as tomatoes. Concerned canned foods are too high in added sodium or sugar? You do not necessarily need to be.
There are plenty of nutritious options available for canned foods. Many vegetables and beans can be found in reduced sodium and no-salt-added options. In addition, straining and rinsing canned foods under cool, running water can further reduce the sodium content by up to 41%. Likewise, canned fruits can be found packed in juice or no-sugar-added options to reduce sugar and excess calorie intake.
How to Stock Your Cupboard with More Nutrition
BEANS are flavorful, nutrient-rich and loaded with fiber. Canned beans are affordable and take significantly less time to prepare than dried beans, making them much easier to incorporate into last-minute meals.
TOMATOES in a can offer convenience and nutritional punch. For recipes calling for chopped or puréed tomatoes, the work is already done for you. They also offer surprising nutrition — the heat process involved in canning releases lycopene, an antioxidant, which may help to reduce the risk for prostate, lung and stomach cancer.
VEGETABLES, when canned, are a great way to meet Food Group goals. The flavor of canned vegetables is well preserved, as are most nutrients and fiber. Though some vitamin C may be lost through the canning process, the amount is negligible when you a combination of fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
FRUITS, when canned, offer shelf life and flexibility. From peaches and pears to pineapples and applesauce, canned fruits can be found packed in water, juice or light syrup for easy addition to snacks and recipes.
Keeping a variety of canned foods on hand can make preparing healthy recipes easier and infinitely less stressful when pressed for time. Finding it difficult to meet your daily Fruit and Vegetable Food Group goals recommended by USDA’s MyPlate?
Ways Canned Fruits & Veggies Can Add Nutrition to Your Day
Carrie Taylor, RDN, LDN
Lead Registered Dietitian for the Living Well Eating Smart Program
Big Y Foods
University of Massachusetts