Canned foods are a good substitute when fresh isn’t available. People who tend to consume these foods have a higher intake of nutritional value because they can be eaten at any time. It doesn’t depend on whether it is in season or not because they are readily available. These foods are picked right at the peek of freshness. This ensures the best taste and nutrient quality of the food. The amount of minerals and vitamins remains unchanged during the canning process which ends up preserving the nutritional value. Based on this canned foods are considered to be just as nutritional as fresh or frozen varieties.
How are Canned Foods Made?
Foods can be commercially canned or at home as a DIY project. Fruits and vegetables should be canned within hours after being picked. The procedure of canning will vary depending on the foods selected. However they all are washed, peeled, chopped, crushed or pitted before canning. Depending on the type of produce, you can blanche them first locking in the nutrients.
After the food is prepped for packaging, the empty cans are then filled with either juice from the food, varying degrees of syrup or water and seasoned. Once the food has been properly processed it is then added to the cans and sealed. Did you know that every canned food must go through a heating process? This heating process kills bacteria and prevents spoilage from occurring. Once the can is heated it is quickly cooled.
Potential Dangers to Canned Foods
Foods that are manufactured in a processing plant and then canned are less likely prone to the toxin botulism. Botulism is a very serious illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves causing muscle paralysis and difficulty breathing. The toxin is made of Clostridium botulinum and can be a real threat to home canned foods. If you desire to can your own foods be sure to adhere to the correct techniques for each food. Follow the National Center for Home Food Preservation for correct procedures to follow.
Another important thing to consider when eating canned foods is the level of heavy metals present. These heavy metals come from the tin cans used in the canning process. Tin toxicity can occur when we ingest food from a damaged can. A survey conducted by the US Drug and Food Administration found the highest levels of lead and cadmium in canned tuna and tomatoes.
Remember This When Considering Canned Options
- Pick foods that are packed in water or 100% juice. Even better is if the food is packed with its own juices.
- Avoid light syrup and heavy syrup options because this will increase your added sugars which leads to stored fat.
- Canned foods are typically high in sodium. Therefore choose low or no sodium options. When you see reduced sodium on cans it simply means there is less in there but its still present. If possible rinse the foods to remove the sodium.
- Most critical – avoid dented, cracked or bulging cans as this is usually a sign of bacteria growing.