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Are Canned Foods Healthy

Alyssa Carlson, Graduate Student, NDSU

February is National Canned Food Month. Having a pantry stocked with canned fruits and vegetables allows you to provide healthful meals for your family, even on busy days when your time is limited. Canned fruits and veggies are convenient, easy to prepare and nutritious.

 

While many people believe that canned fruits and vegetables aren’t as healthy as fresh fruits and veggies, this is not true. In fact, sometimes canned fruits and veggies can be more nutritious than their fresh counterparts. Canned produce is packed at the peak of its freshness, which is when nutrients are most abundant. However, watch out for added sugar and sodium. Make sure fruit is canned in water or its own juice and that vegetables are low-sodium or no-salt-added. Added sodium also can be reduced by rinsing canned veggies with water.

Consider these “perks” of canned foods:

  • They have a long shelf life. Depending on the type of food, some will stay fresh for up to 18 months, while others can be stored up to five years. As long as the can remains sealed and they are kept in a cool, dry place, they will remain safe to eat and won't spoil.
  • They are available all year long. Canned foods are a great way to have fruits and vegetables on hand when they’re out of season.
  • They are inexpensive. A can of fruit or vegetables typically costs less than one dollar, so they're perfect for shopping on a budget. They also go on sale often. If you shop at the right time, you may be able to get two for the price of one.
  • They are already prepared. You do not need to clean, peel or chop them. This reduces prep time, making for quick, efficient meals – perfect for a busy family. Canned fruits make great  snacks, too.
  • They reduce food waste. While fresh fruits and vegetables spoil quickly, canned fruits and veggies do not. You won't be throwing out bad produce as often, which not only reduces waste, but also saves money.

Keeping your pantry stocked with canned fruits and vegetables, as well as other nonperishable items, can help save valuable time and money. Stock up the pantry when these items go on sale. Organize your pantry in "first in, first out" order so that you're using the older products first. It's also helpful to label and date items so they can be seen easily. The kids can even help with this, making for a family activity that also is teaching important skills.

 

See  www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn1706.pdf for a list of items to have on hand in your pantry

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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