Are Canned Foods Nutritious?
If you know anything about N4L, it’s that we love our ultra-fresh produce. So much so that we have an entire page dedicated to our sustainable farming practices! But do you want to know a secret? We use canned goods right alongside our fresh ingredients. Canned foods have unfortunately gotten a bad reputation in the world of healthy eating, but the reality is they can be a great part of a healthy diet. Let’s explore how!
Not all canned goods are as bad as they’re portrayed. Sometimes canned fruits and vegetables are better than fresh. The fruits and vegetables that are canned are picked in their peak season, giving them the best nutrient content and flavor.
But fresh goods are always better than canned, right? Not necessarily! An apple picked off of your own personal tree at the peak of ripeness will be packed with nutrients. An apple that was transported to a store and then sat in your crisper for a few weeks will be less so.
The canning process helps preserve the nutrients and taste of the fruits and vegetables. The process begins within hours after they were picked. The healthiest canned goods go through minimal processing - washing, cutting, and sometimes blanching - are all that is needed to get foods ready for canning.
After the product is prepared, it’s canned with either juice or water. Look for these options over products canned with syrup, as this indicates that sugar has been added during the canning process. The cans are then sealed and quickly heated for a specific amount of time to kill off any potentially harmful bacteria and preserve the product inside.
When it comes to looking at the difference in nutrients, there are little differences. Canned goods have roughly the same amount of minerals, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fat-soluble vitamins. The only main difference would be a reduced amount of the water-soluble vitamins due to the heating portion of canning, but this increases the antioxidant content. This means a decrease in vitamin C and B vitamins but an increase in phytonutrients such as lycopene in tomatoes!
We all want to eat the best but sometimes it can be expensive. Between the increase of prices of fresh foods to the spoilage of fresh fruits and vegetables before we use them, canned goods help reduce the cost but promote the same value of nutrients. Just make sure you look for no salt added or low-sodium, 100% juice or water when it comes to purchasing the canned goods. Some canned goods are very high in sodium or are in heavy or light syrup which is high in sugar. When using canned beans or vegetables high in sodium, drain and give them a good rinse to help reduce the sodium content!
If a can has dents, cracks, signs of leakage, or bulging, do not use it. These are indicators that there may be bacteria in the can. This typically doesn’t happen to commercial goods, more often home-made canned goods, but still possible due to mishandling.
If it’s the season of the fresh fruit/vegetable and able to be obtained, then go for it! But in the off seasons go for the canned fruit/vegetable because it is always in season! This is what we here at Nutrition for Longevity do to provide you with the best nutrition we can.