Canned Food Facts
By Camille Rhoades
In todayís economy and rushed pace canned goods have become a very important way of getting healthy meals on the table quickly. Some people still have time to do canning at home, but for an increasing number of us that is becoming less and less feasible. There are many myths that lead us to believe that home canned foods are the only healthy choice in canning, while commercially canned products must be lacking nutrition or flavor, but that just isnít so.
In researching for this article I came across a wonderful website that I canít wait to share with you! It is put together by the Canned Food Alliance and it is full of wonderful information, videos, recipes, budget ideas, and more. I watched their 10 minute video presentation about following canned foods from the farm to the table, and read tons of great information and I just canít wait to share what I learned with you! The following information comes from MealTime.org
From artichoke hearts to zucchini, more than 1,500 food items are packaged in cans. Along with traditional canned favorites such as tomatoes and peaches, todayís supermarkets offer many new and exciting specialty foods that provide endless possibilities for canned creations.
Did You Know?
Did you know that canned food is packed full of nutrition? In most instances, canned foods are comparable to their cooked fresh and frozen counterparts. Plus, theyíre available year-round so they can easily be added to favorite recipes for convenient meal solutions.
Almost all canned vegetables and canned fruits are fat-free.
Based on epidemiological studies, canned carrots, as part of a healthful eating pattern, may contribute to reduced risk of some cancers.
Canned tomatoes and tomato sauces are among the best sources of lycopene. Lycopene, found in tomatoes and many other red-pigmented fruits and vegetables, may help protect against certain cancers. The heat from the canning process allows lycopene in tomatoes to be better absorbed in the body.
Canned food only needs to be warmed through before serving because it has already been cooked in the can. Without re-cooking, nutrients are retained.
Many canned food products are available in low-salt and no-salt alternatives. Many canned fruits are packed in natural juices.
Carotenes are antioxidants that provide protection for body cells. Canned apricots, carrots, peaches, pumpkin, spinach and sweet potatoes are all high in carotenes.
Canned beans of all types (black beans, red beans, butter beans, chickpeas, etc.) are usually fat-free. They're high in fiber and rich in protein, and they may be used right from the can to add flavor, color, texture and nutrition to a variety of meatless dishes, ranging from salads and soups, to stews and casseroles. Keep in mind, the darker the bean, the more antioxidants it contains.
Blueberries are a powerhouse of flavonoids, a category of phytonutrients with antioxidant power! Canned blueberries deliver plenty of flavonoids at levels comparable to, and in some cases higher than, other forms of blueberries.
Facts About the Canning Process
Prepared foods, such as soups and stews, are canned as soon as they are prepared to ensure the ultimate in freshness. More than 50 varieties of soups, stews and chili are available in cans, making meal preparation easy. Just open the can, heat Ė and eat!
Once the cans are sealed and heat processed, the food inside maintains its high eating quality for at least two years and is safe to eat as long as the container is not bulging or leaking.
Most canned fruits and veggies contain no preservatives. They're picked and packed at the peak of ripeness, cooked quickly at high temperatures and sterilized in steel cans to keep nutrients in and impurities out.
Most fruit and vegetable canneries are located just a few miles from the field, ensuring that canned food is packed at the peak of freshness.
What about Vitamins, Minerals and Protein?
Canned pumpkin is an excellent source of beta carotene, which forms vitamin A, an essential nutrient that promotes healthy vision and helps promote immunity. While 1/2 cup boiled, mashed fresh pumpkin contains 122% Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A; the same amount of canned pumpkin has 381% DV.
Canning is one of the safest ways to preserve foods. The shelf life of canned food is at least two years and the vitamin and nutrient levels in canned food remain stable during its shelf life.
Canned poultry and fish, both protein-rich foods, are comparable to their fresh-cooked counterparts in nutritional value because protein is not affected by heat treatment. In fact, the canning process softens edible bones, which contribute to higher calcium levels in some canned fish.
Many canned fruits and vegetables are high in Vitamin A. Canned products, such as spinach, have comparable levels of vitamin A to their cooked fresh or frozen counterparts.
Canned beans pack a powerful punch; they are good sources of protein and fiber, and provide iron, thiamin and folate, too.
Canned asparagus, grapefruits and pineapple are significant sources of vitamin C.
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