Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

I have heard that I should only buy food from the outside aisles of the grocery store where the fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and milk are found. What about all the food in the middle, like canned foods? Does this mean I can’t, or shouldn’t, use canned food?

The movement to use fresh, whole foods has gained momentum with a few popular diets. There are many healthy and nutritious food choices located in every grocery store aisle. We naturally want to use as many fresh food products, lean meat and low calorie dairy foods as we can but that doesn’t mean to stop using canned or packaged products.

There are many canned and frozen fruits and vegetables that have been processed quickly after harvest and contain the same or better nutrition than fresh produce that has been transported a great distance. Research tells us that 5 days of transporting vegetables can decrease nutrients in food by 30-50%. Cans usually seal in freshness, nutrition and flavor.

That is not to say there aren’t better choices among canned foods. The healthiest canned foods contain limited ingredients in addition to the particular food such as peaches packed in their own juice versus packed in heavy syrup. Buying convenience items such as canned meals can contain other ingredients that may not fit into your healthy eating plan.You can choose lower sodium varieties or drain the liquid to further reduce sodium by as much as 37%, rinsing the vegetables can reduce sodium by 41%. It is important to read the labels for nutritional content and ingredients.

Cooking at home instead of convenience items high in fat, sodium and preservatives is definitely a healthy eating goal. Canned foods in your pantry can augment fresh fruits and vegetables saving time while increasing nutrition. Canned foods can be stored at home for a longer period of time and are available to you all year long. Using canned food products can also help you reduce food waste in your home when you don’t have time to prepare fresh produce.

A healthy meal plan can include both fresh produce and canned foods.


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