Food for Thought Blog

Myth Busting – Is Canned Food Unhealthy?

October 13th, 2021Awareness, Food

Did you know? According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “people who consume more canned foods tend to have a higher intake of fruits and vegetables and a higher intake of nutrients compared to people who consume fewer canned fruits and vegetables”.

While canned food sometimes gets a bad rap for being high in sodium and sugar, what many people don’t realize is that it is often just as nutritious as fresh and can be a convenient way to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables or other nutrients.

How is commercially canned food made?

When it comes to the cans you see on the shelf at the grocery store, food must be preserved correctly to ensure products are not only safe but also delicious. There are three main steps that food undergoes to be canned.

Step 1 – Preparation

During the preparation phase, the main goal is to process food into its desired state before sealing. This may involve peeling, blanching, cutting, removing pits, washing, or rehydrating. Once processed, food is placed into a can or jar and the desired liquid is added such as water, brine, or juice.

Step 2 – Sealing

Once cans are filled with food, lids are placed on and sealed.

Step 3 – Heating

Cans are heated to a very high temperature which creates a vacuum to further seal the can and remove excess air. This high temperature also kills bacteria and microorganisms allowing the food to have a longer shelf life.

Tips for Avoiding Salt and Sugar

You may be surprised how easy it is to avoid added salt and sugar when it comes to choosing canned food items.

Salt

Canned vegetables and beans are often packaged in a brine that can be very high in sodium. Instead, opt for no salt added options or try rinsing vegetables and beans in water to reduce the amount of sodium. When it comes to foods liked canned soup or pasta sauce, look for sodium-reduced options. Try to aim for choices with less than 200 mg of sodium per serving or 15% Daily Value.

Sugar

Canned fruit is often packaged in heavy syrups which are high in sugar. To the skip the added sugar, look for canned fruit that is packed in water or fruit juice.

4 Benefits of Eating Canned Food

  1. Full of Nutrients
    • Canned fruits and vegetables are picked at the peak of freshness and then canned, locking in their nutrients. This makes them a great choice year-round and an easy way to add more nutrients into your diet.
  2. Time Saving
    • Canned food is processed before packaging. This mean that you can skip the peeling, chopping, and soaking, making them an easy time saving addition to any meal.
  3. Reduce Food Waste
    • Canned food has a longer shelf life than fresh items. This gives you more time to use the product, resulting in less spoilage and food being thrown away.
  4. Inexpensive
    • When produce is out of season, canned fruits and vegetables are often an inexpensive way to enjoy produce that may not otherwise be available or may be more expensive due to increased costs associated with importing food.

Looking for some ideas of how to cook with canned food items? Check out thefoodbank.ca/food for some delicious recipes!