Canned foods are convenient and easy to cook: Just pop the lid, reheat and they are mostly ready to go. However, they are often regarded as unhealthy choices due to perceived high levels of sodium, sugar and preservatives.
Although they are often thought to be less nutritious than fresh or frozen foods, not all canned products are unhealthy. Some of them are just as nutritious – if not more so – than their fresh counterparts, said Yuliana Zhang, a plant-based nutritionist.
“When it comes to nutrition, all forms count. Many health organisations such as the USDA have recognised that canned, fresh, frozen and dried foods all help to contribute to healthy eating as long as everything is in good balance,” she said.
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Fresh is not always the best.
A study by the University of California, Davis found that fresh vegetables like spinach can lose up to 75 per cent of their vitamin C within seven days of harvest. Blanching and freezing them may help to preserve some nutrients, but not for long.
It’s worth noting that the process of canning preserves food. “The key is to find healthier canned food products, and combine them with fresh ingredients in a meal,” says Yuliana.
“Choose canned products that have a lower amount of sodium, sugar and saturated fat, such as those with the Healthier Choice Symbol. Also check the ingredient list: It should contain simple, key ingredients.”
So the next time you’re at the supermarket, hone in on these healthier canned food options that can last you a long time.