Canned foods have gotten a bad rap lately, so bad that folks can be ashamed to wheel up to the checkout with them in the cart. But what we think about canned goods couldn’t be further from the truth!
Canned goods are picked at the peak of ripeness and quickly canned. They are actually minimally processed and retain most of their nutritional value. A study has shown that people who eat a lot of canned foods have a higher intake of 17 essential nutrients than those who don’t. As far as flavor goes, canned fruits and vegetables taste fresher than out of season options; this is especially true of tomatoes.
Here are some of the best and nutritionally dense foods to consume from cans:
- Black beans pack a nutritional punch. One cup contains 15 grams of protein and is rich in folate, iron, and magnesium. They also contain 16 grams of soluble fiber per cup that is a cholesterol buster, at half your daily intake.
- Canned oysters contain a bevy of nutrients. They contain more than your daily need for B12, copper and immune boosting zinc. They also contain selenium which has been linked to a lower risk of developing depressive symptoms. They also have more iron content than beef.
- Canned pumpkin-squash of all kinds are full of nutrients. The more colorful the more vitamins. Pumpkins contain a large amount of beta-carotene. People with high levels of carotenoids tested for a younger biological age as indicated by longer telomeres – DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes that shorten as cells age. Add pumpkin to chili, sauces, and dips. You can also substitute for oil and butter in baked goods.
- Chipotle chilis in adobo sauce are dried and smoked jalapenos. Eating chili peppers reduces cardiovascular disease and cancer. The benefit of chili peppers is attributed to the chemical compound capsaicin, with potential cardio-protective and anti-tumorigenic effects. It may also have a beneficial impact on our microbiome that could translate into better health. They pack a spicy addition to countless recipes.
- Canned tomatoes are one of the best canned vegetables. They are canned immediately at peak ripeness and taste so much better than fresh tomatoes out of season. Purchase whole tomatoes in juice. Crushed and diced tomatoes contain chemicals that keep their shape. Whole tomatoes just contain juice and salt. Canned tomatoes are laced with the plant compound lycopene. This is a member of the carotenoid family that may help in the battle against premature cognitive decline as we age. A report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute also suggests that greater intakes of lycopene can lower the risk for developing breast cancer. Acting as a potent antioxidant, lycopene can help vanquish the free radicals in our bodies, which can damage DNA and initiate cancers and worsen brain functioning. Tomatoes can be used in so many recipes. Crush canned tomatoes and mix with the aforementioned chipotle peppers to make a delicious spicy sauce.
Add some nutritious canned food to your pantry and you can use them in a pinch to add to many recipes. Fruits are also delicious and can be used instead of fresh fruit when it is out of season.
Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago