Canned Foods Are A Cheaper, Healthy Option

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on November 14, 2012 · 0 comments

Food budgets are tight today and fresh fish, fruits and vegetables have a short shelf life. Canned options can provide a healthy, less expensive alternative. Substituting canned salmon or tuna not only saves money but offers the same nutrition as their fresh varieties. For those who are unsure of how to cook fish or have little time to prepare it, canned fish can be used on top of a salad, in a sandwich, or mixed with pasta for a healthy meal.

Fruits packed in water or fruit juice provide variety year round. Canned peaches can cost half the price of fresh and are available when fresh is scarce. Canned vegetables, especially low salt varieties can quickly add variety to a meal with little preparation other than a few minutes in the microwave. Canned beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber that can turn a salad or rice dish into a main course instantly. Draining and rinsing canned beans will lower their sodium content by almost half.

Canned foods are often criticized as an overly processed food. This is truly a myth. Most canned foods are picked and processed close to harvest time and location which maintains both taste and quality. Canning reduces the risk for foodborne illness and cans are the most recycled food container in the US. Research has shown that canning does not destroy protein, fiber, vitamin A, carotenoids (powerful antioxidants), or folic acid (a B vitamin). In some cases canning increases the amount of a nutrient because the processing helps to release nutrients from the plant cells. For example, canned tomatoes have more lycopene (a powerful antioxidant) than fresh.

Bottom line: Keeping a supply of canned foods on hand can make meals easier to prepare, add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, and save you money.

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