Is it true that canned foods might actually be a healthier alternative to fresh produce? Well, I’m here to give you the inside scoop! Most people have a preconceived notion that fresh foods are superior to canned foods because of the concept that “fresh is best!” In our generation, referred to as Gen Z, we generally get most of our information from various social media platforms that, well… might not be so accurate. The truth can easily be lost in translation when we are trying to discover how to eat healthy. There are a ton of fad diets, food trends, and plant-based recipes that are shared amongst our generation. One component that is not traveling through the social media world is the importance of canned foods in our diet. Read on to learn more about the process of canning and benefits of canned foods!
There is a specific method for creating canned fruits and vegetables, making it important to follow the proper steps—processing, sealing, and heating. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, canned foods are rich in nutrients because these produce are picked, canned, and preserved at maximum freshness, meaning they contain the optimal amount of nutrients needed to provide our bodies with the vitamins and minerals we need to live a healthy lifestyle. One of the most consumed and healthiest canned products are tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are high in lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce risk of diseases, certain cancers, and inflammation. They also contain vitamins A, C, and E, potassium, and folate—all important nutrients our bodies need for proper bodily functions. The best part about canned tomatoes is that they come in various forms—canned, diced, paste, soup, and more! This enhances their versatility in numerous meals that you and your family are guaranteed to enjoy, such as pizzas, pastas, stews, soups, and tacos. Who would’ve thought that simply incorporating more canned tomatoes (or other canned products) into one’s diet can be both nutritious AND delicious.
Since Gen Z consumers are constantly looking for more ways to boost their fruit and vegetable intake while eating more plant-based meals, canned products are a great way to do so! Numerous studies have shown that individuals who frequently consume canned foods generally have a higher intake of essential nutrients. With that being said, there is a positive correlation between consumption of canned food and boosting required nutrient intake recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In addition to striving for healthier eating habits, Gen Z’s goal is to purchase affordable foods that neither break the bank nor lead to food waste. Recent studies have provided sufficient evidence that canned goods are readily available and accessible to people of all ages, incomes, backgrounds, and geography, which makes it easier for people to purchase cost-effective, nutrient-rich foods while enhancing their quality of life. The great news is that canned products also have a long shelf life, which allows individuals to reduce the amount of trips they take to the store, saving them time and money—and who wouldn’t want that?
When purchasing canned foods, it’s still critical to read the ingredient labels on the cans you are purchasing to avoid any high sodium or added sugar within the product. Once you have secured the canned items and are just about ready to whip up a delicious meal in the kitchen, always make sure to rinse the canned fruits and vegetables in order to reduce sodium content and ensure maximum cleanliness. So whether you’re trying to eat healthier, more plant-based, save time and money, reduce food waste, or lessen your carbon footprint, canned products are the way to go! Next time you go to the store, remind yourself to purchase canned items that you can easily whip up in no time, creating a flavorful, nutrient-packed meal for you and your loved ones.
Savanna Malki is an RD2Be from Los Angeles, California. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health Policy from the University of California, Irvine. She will be starting her Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics this upcoming Fall at Loma Linda University. She is extremely passionate about plant-based nutrition (as she has been vegan for about 4 years). In her free time she enjoys cooking, going to the beach, and spending time with family and friends. Her goal is to become a Registered Dietitian so that she can provide nutrition education and help improve the health of our society.