All foods can fit into your life! Before you forego the canned foods aisle, consider these reasons why it may be worth shopping for.
Do you steer away from canned food because you believe they are inferior in its nutritional content? Not necessarily! Canned food absolutely can be a part of a balanced diet and healthy kitchen, especially for busy parents who need to get meals on the table faster.
You’ll likely have a bigger appreciation for the canned food aisle after viewing these top 6 reasons canned foods can fit in a healthy lifestyle:
The convenience of canned foods cannot be topped. Half the time, you don’t even need a can opener when the cans have the pull tabs! This ready-to-go luxury makes it perfect when you need a meal in a pinch – just grab a can or two from your pantry and with a quick reheat (if needed) on the stove top or in the microwave, you can have a balanced meal in a jiffy.
There’s a big misperception that canned food isn’t healthy, but this isn’t entirely true. Protein, fat, carbohydrates, and most minerals and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) are entirely maintained in the canning process. Water-soluble vitamins (like vitamin C and B vitamins like folate) are heat sensitive and thus lost slightly during the canning process, which has a heating step. However, with certain foods, this heating step actually brings out more antioxidants, like in corn and tomatoes.
Additionally, canned food can sometimes be nutritionally superior because it’s typically harvested and canned at peak freshness, which means more nutrients are maintained compared to “fresh” produce that’s been sitting on a shelf for who knows how long. Just be sure to buy canned food that is low sodium or no salt added or fruit that is packed in 100% fruit juice, no syrups.
The other thing to be aware of with canned food and health benefits is Bisphenol A (BPA), a compound in cans that is a known as an endocrine disruptor. This is definitely something to be avoided, but it’s pretty easy to do that now. Just look for cans that say BPA-free on the package (many do) or buy canned goods in glass containers.
3. Affordable & Accessible
Canned goods are typically more readily available, with basic canned goods (like canned tuna and fruit) sold at even gas stations. Additionally, canned food is typically more affordable per serving, even if you’re buying organic canned food. Bonus: grocery stores often have buy one, get one free sales on various canned goods, which is a great time to stock up and replenish your pantry!
4. Easy First Foods for Baby
Canned foods can actually translate to easy baby food. You can easily buy fruits and vegetables (no salt added and in 100% juice!) in BPA-free containers, and even organic canned food, for an affordable price. These can be easily pureed (and sometimes pureed easier than their fresh counterparts, like with green beans). Once your baby starts having more finger foods and are self-feeding, you can offer small pieces of things like green beans, black beans, peaches, pears, etc. They’re already really soft and great for working on that finger dexterity!
5. Decreased Food Waste
The vast majority of Americans struggle with food waste. We’ve all done it – you’re rummaging around in the fridge and all of a sudden you find that tomato that got shoved back in the corner, bottom shelf and is now way past its prime. Canned foods last for years, which is much better for food waste, the environment,and your wallet!
On the food production side of things, canned food actually helps decrease food waste as well. We have a problem with rejection of “ugly produce” in our country – think misshapen carrots, tomatoes, and other fruits and veggies. These “ugly” foods that wouldn’t look so pretty on store shelves are perfect for already washed, chopped or diced, and canned food!
6. Long Shelf-Life (Think: Emergency Stores!)
Generally speaking, canned food can last anywhere between 1-5 years. This is perfect for stocking that pantry for those times when you arrive home from vacation, and there’s nothing in the fridge. Pantry to the rescue!
This is also important if you live in an area prone to natural disasters. Have some essentials on hand to get as many food groups as possible in case a storm hits and power is lost for days. Some favorites: a variety of vegetables, fruit, beans, canned fish or chicken white meat, evaporated nonfat milk.
Now go out there, and stock up!
Adapted from the original article.
Lindsey Janeiro RDN, CLC is a Registered Dietitian and Lactation Counselor based in Sarasota, FL focused on helping busy moms live stress-free in the kitchen. She inspires moms with the confidence and encouragement they need to create simple, affordable family meals that nourishes everyone’s health and happiness. Learn more about Lindsey at Nutrition to Fit.