Three Cans to Keep on Hand

From EatingWell Magazine

If you usually turn up your nose at canned produce, you may want to reconsider. “While some vegetables and legumes lose nutrients in the canning process, others actually see their healthy compounds increase,” says Gene Lester, Ph.D., a research plant physiologist for the USDA. That’s because canning calls for heating, which causes certain raw vegetables, such as corn and tomatoes, to release antioxidants and make them more available. Plus, a report in the journal Nutrition & Food Sciences found that canned often trumps fresh in price, prep time and food waste. Here are three canned goods worth keeping in your pantry.


Black, kidney and pinto beans are great ways to add flavor, fiber and protein to soups and casseroles. “Nutritionally, beans do lose folate in the canning process, but the calcium and iron content of canned beans is similar to those you soak and cook at home,” says Lester. Since sodium levels spike in canning, Lester suggests simply forgoing adding salt to your dish. Rinsing canned beans is also a good idea—it can remove up to 35 percent of the sodium.


When researchers analyzed the nutrients and prep time of canned corn, they found that it delivers the same amount of dietary fiber as fresh at a 25-percent cost savings. The downside: canned corn does lose vitamin C during canning. “To help counteract that, I like to squeeze fresh lemon juice on my canned corn. It brightens flavor and brings some of the vitamin C back,” Lester says. Despite the C loss, extended heating during canning actually boosts corn’s antioxidant activity, according to a report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


Don’t have an hour to turn a whole pumpkin into pie filling? Here’s another reason to opt for canned: pumpkin is a rich source of carotenoids, which are made more available through cooking and canning, according to Lester. Also, when pumpkin is concentrated, the canning process pumps up its calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin K.

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