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Are Canned Foods Nutritious for My Family?

Jun. 10, 2021

Canned foods can play an important role in an overall healthy diet. People who consume more canned foods tend to have a higher intake of fruits and vegetables and a higher intake of nutrients than people who consume fewer canned vegetables and fruits.

How canned foods are made

Canned Vegetables and fruits are usually canned within a few hours of picking. Some procedures may vary from food to food, but once the fruit or vegetable has been picked and shipped to the cannery, it goes through three main steps.

Processing: Fruits and vegetables are washed and usually peeled, cut, chopped or cored before canning. Certain varieties of fruits and vegetables may be blanched beforehand. Dry beans are hydrated and blanched. Once the food is prepared, the jars are filled with water or juice and seasoned accordingly.

Sealing: After processing is complete, the food is canned and the lids are sealed.

Canned Vegetables

Canned Vegetables

Heating: Once the cans are sealed, they are quickly heated to a precise temperature for a set period of time to kill harmful bacteria and prevent spoilage. After heating, it is quickly cooled.

Benefits of canning

Fruits and vegetables used for canning are picked at their freshest to ensure the best flavor and nutritional quality. Canned foods can be just as nutritious as fresh and frozen foods because canning preserves many nutrients. The amounts of minerals, fat-soluble vitamins, proteins, fats and carbohydrates remain relatively unchanged during the canning process. However, Canned Foods may have fewer water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and B vitamins, because of the high heat required for the canning process. However, the heating process that may damage some vitamins can actually increase the antioxidant content. For example, canning increases the amount of lycopene in tomatoes.

Canned foods are a convenient and affordable way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. The canning process ensures a long shelf life of at least one to five years. This may be beneficial for those who often throw away fresh produce due to spoilage.

Make Smart Choices

While canned foods can be easy and convenient, there are some factors to consider when choosing nutritious options. When purchasing canned fruit, choose varieties that are canned in water, 100% juice or their own juice. Many varieties of fruit are packed in light or heavy syrup, which equates to added sugar. Choose unsalted canned vegetables labeled "no salt added" or "low sodium. Be aware that canned goods labeled "reduced sodium" are not necessarily sodium-free. Draining and rinsing canned beans and vegetables can also reduce the sodium content.

Avoid cans with dents, bulges, cracks or leaks. This may be a sign of the bacteria that cause botulism. Damage to the can may allow air to enter, creating an ideal environment for the growth of botulism. Botulism is more common in improperly handled homemade cans and extremely rare in commercially packaged cans.

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