Is Canned Food Bad For Us?

Canned Food

There is a common misconception that canned food is inherently bad for us. It certainly isn’t quite as nutritious as most fresh foods- but as it turns out, studies show that canned food is not always bad for you.

You can buy almost anything in a can, from canned cheese to canned spaghetti. These foods have been safely preserved in the can, so they tend to have long shelf lives and are ideal for traveling, emergencies, and for those with limited mobility who cannot chop and peel vegetables.

The canning process

The canning process begins in much the same way we prepare vegetables when we cook from scratch- by washing, peeling, chopping, or all three. These foods may be cooked or blanched beforehand, or they may be placed directly into the can along with juice or water. Once the can is sealed safely, the can is quickly heated to kill any lingering bacteria and prevent the food from going off. It then cools and lands on the shelves of your local grocery store.

When you buy canned food, inspect the can for punctures or other signs that the can has been dropped, tampered with, has a leak, or has been otherwise damaged. This means that the sterile environment of the can may have been compromised and the food inside is no longer safe to consume. It may have been exposed to bacteria or the food inside may have spoiled. Dodgy cans can result in sickness, botulism, or just a really gross meal.

When it comes to buying and eating canned food, the risks are pretty low. Handmade canned food may pose a risk, but generally, the canned food you buy in stores has gone through a process to make it as safe as possible. As long as your cans aren’t damaged, canned food is a convenient way to make some really great meals.

Nutritional value

In order to be canned, food has to first be cooked at high heat. This can remove some water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins B and C, which are often sacrificed during the cooking process. However, the canning process preserves many other things, such as vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as protein, carbs, fat, and minerals.

This, of course, depends on what type of canned food you’re eating. Certain foods release more antioxidants during the cooking process, so foods like tomatoes and corn can actually be a better source of antioxidants when you eat them from a can rather than fresh.

Health benefits

Adding canned foods to a balanced diet can actually be beneficial. For one thing, people who eat a lot of canned foods may eat more fruits and vegetables, especially those who live in an area without easy access to farms. Since produce is generally canned within hours of being picked, it may be fresher than what you find in the supermarket. Fruits and veggies used for canning tend to be picked at the optimal time and freshness when their flavour and nutrient quality are at their peak. Canned produce can also be a more inexpensive choice than fresh. It is also convenient due to its long shelf life and the fact that the fruits and vegetables inside tend to be chopped, pitted, peeled and otherwise prepared for you.

How many times have you thrown away vegetables because they went bad before you could use them? Canned food does not present this same issue. In fact, it increases the likelihood of having certain fruits and vegetables on hand when you need or want them.

Make informed decisions

Let’s be real, we can get a little suspicious when we see canned meat with a super long shelf life. It makes sense that some canned food is better than others. Canned vegetables with no added nasties and no added sodium are better than canned hot dogs. However, canned fruit can deceive some people. After all, fruit is natural and healthy. But many canned fruits are often packed in syrup or jelly filled with sugar.

You can opt for healthier canned foods by reading the label. If you’re buying canned fruit you may want to look for one that is packed in its own juice or water. You can also select canned vegetables that have low sodium or no added sodium. If you think your canned produce was preserved in sugar or salt-laden juice, you can simply rinse your foods under the tap before eating. You may also choose to buy cans that are marked as BPA-free.