February is National Canned Food Month and in the midst of winter it can be pleasant to think about gardening and the food preservation that awaits later this year. What do we know about canned fruits and vegetables that we find on the grocery shelf? Are they a good choice for stocking your pantry? Here are some fun (and healthy) facts about canned fruits and vegetables:
- Canned Food Offers Sound Nutrition to Help Americans Achieve Nutrient Needs. Canned fruits and vegetables are filled with important nutrients, including fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy diet. Yet less than half (42%) of Americans surveyed realize the nutrients in canned food count toward meeting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) dietary recommendations.
- Canned Food Offers Comparable Nutrition to Fresh and Frozen. Research shows canned foods offer comparable nutrients to their fresh or frozen counterparts when prepared for the table. They are also rated highly when it comes to prep time, cutting down on waste, and taste! Additional research demonstrates that recipes prepared with canned ingredients rated the same or better in terms of taste and nutrition compared to those using fresh or frozen ingredients. Canned fruits and vegetables are picked at the point of perfect ripeness, and the taste and nutrition is sealed right in the can.
- You Can Enjoy Canned Foods as Part of a Healthy Diet. Canned food contributes less than 1% of the sodium in consumers’ diets and there are more no-salt-added, low- and reduced-sodium options on grocery shelves than ever before. A quick drain and rinse can further reduce the sodium content by 41%! For fruits, choose fruits packed in fruit juice or light syrup for a healthy alternative.
- Canned Foods are Minimally Processed. Canned foods are considered minimally processed foods. After being cleaned, peeled, chopped and trimmed, as necessary, foods are cooked in the can to lock in nutrients and flavor. The whole process can take only a few hours, from field to can. Once canned, foods are shelf-stable. No need to use extra energy to keep fruits and vegetables chilled or frozen.
- Cans are a Safe Form of Food Packaging. Metal cans are strong, tamper-resistant, and feature an airtight seal to help guard against foodborne illness and contamination. We’ve all purchased dented cans, but as long as you avoid cans with really deep dents that have sharp edges and dents on the top where the can lid meets the body – you’ll be safe! Plus, if you go the extra mile to recycle metal cans you’ll be doing your best for the planet.
Stay food safe and healthy!