Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Is Canned Food Good for You?

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We are all trying to cut back at the grocery store, but do you always have to get fresh produce? Not necessarily. I am always all for getting lots of fruits and veggies in whatever form. But I often hear people tell me they don't think canned is as good as fresh. Hopefully I can set the record straight.

Canned food is often less expensive than frozen or fresh. It is also very convenient. You won't throw away moldy or freezer burned foods. They are much more shelf stable so you can stock your pantry and always have something healthy on hand. And if you have been reading the Diet Dish for long, you know that I LOVE canned beans!

Fresh is not always best
A study from UC Davis found that all cooked forms of fruits and veggies--whether they come from fresh, frozen, or canned-- are nutritionally similar. In fact, many foods are actually more nutritious in canned form. For example, canned pumpkin is higher in Vitamin A than an equal amount of cooked fresh pumpkin because the canning process concentrates the food. Canned tomatoes are higher in lycopene because the heat from the canning process helps the body absorb the lycopene better. The same is true for carotenoids in carrots, spinach, and other leafy greens and lutein in corn.

Surprising ways to use canned food
I just made three recipes I found on mealtime.org which is the website for the Canned Food Alliance.

Green Sal
ad with Posole and Creamy Cilantro-Lime Dressing
This green salad is dressed with the most amazing creamy cilantro lime dressing. It is so good I wish you could taste it through the screen. What I love about this recipe is that you use only 1 T. of oil (instead of 1/2 or more cup per recipe) because you use pureed cannelini beans. This adds fiber and reduces calories and fat. Did I mention how yummy it is? Oh, and just in case you didn't know (I didn't), Posole is simply white corn.
Canned items in this recipe:
  • Cannelini beans
  • Mild green chilis
  • Posole (also called hominy which is white corn)
  • Slice ripe black olives

Caribbean Stir-Fri
ed Shrimp
I made this last night and my husband went back for seconds. Even Basil (almost 2 year old) ate it up! Uses frozen shrimp, canned pinepple, and tomatoes. It took me 15 minutes to make. I served it with instant brown rice. Tasty!
Canned items in this recipe:
  • Pineapple chunks in juice
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Mild green chilis

Red Satin Cake w
ith Peaches and Raspberries
OK...ready for dessert now? You would never believe that this cake has pureed beets in it. I hate beets (sorry, but true). But I wanted to see how this would taste. Outstanding! You simply put the entire can of beets in the blender and mix it into a boxed mix of devil's food cake and some eggs. No oil in cake mix because beets provide the moisture. Then you take canned peaches in juice and blend with cornstarch and boil to thicken for the filling. So easy!
Canned items in this recipe:
  • No salt added sliced canned beets
  • Sliced peaches in juice
For more recipes, check out the recipe section of www.mealtime.org
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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