Do you know what canned food poses towards your health? Do you know what the alternatives are to avoid them and if they even should be avoided? Like with anything else to do with health and lifestyle, everything has its pros and cons, and nothing stirs up a conversation like the good and the bad of canned food.
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It’s important to know that canned food is not bad for your health. However, not watching what you eat and not following a proper diet is. With that being said, let’s dive into what the purpose of canned food is, as well as its good and bad side.
The Purpose of Putting Canned Food Packaging
Canning is a packaging method food factories and distributors use to preserve food for longer periods and preventing them from being contaminated by external factors. Canned food is the method of packing them airtight, concealing the content from becoming spoilt over time. The process of canning foods will depend on the manufacturer and type of food. However, the three main steps when canning food are:
- Processing. The food source is peeled, cut, washed and cooked
- Sealed. the processed food becomes sealed in its packaging, making it airtight
- Heating. The packaging is then heated in order to kill all the harmful bacterias inside and to prolong shelf-life.
The Pros of Canned Food
- Convenience – Fresh foods are always an easy option. Especially with certain fruits and vegetables, a quick wash and prep and they will be ready to go. However, with meats, beans, and certain dishes, it can be time-consuming to cook and prepare, making canned foods a convenient option. Canned foods are quick to prepare and can be conveniently brought to different places and stored for longer durations. Canned foods also don’t need to be refrigerated unless they’ve already been opened.
- Long Shelf-Life – Longer shelf life is one of the obvious and main benefits of canned foods over fresh food. Most canned foods have a shelf life minimum of one year. Once the can is open; however, they should be stored and treated like fresh food unless storage instructions state otherwise.
- Affordable – depending on the brand and type of food, most of the time canned food is affordable. Especially for students and young adults who are on tight budgets canned food isn’t just convenient, but they won’t break the bank. During seasons when fruits and vegetables may not be harvesting large amounts, fresh versions will inflate in price. That’s why choosing and stocking up on the canned versions is a financially good decision.
- Nutrition – Preservatives and artificial flavours are usually associated with canned foods which is why it has gained an unfavourable reputation. However, canned foods contain the same nutrients as fresh foods and are convenient for people who struggle to get in regular meals. Canned foods are also nutrient-dense as the food content has been processed as soon as they are harvested and are at the peak of their nutritional content.
The Cons of Canned Food
- Taste – Canned foods will never taste as good or as natural as its fresh counterpart, regardless of what any labelling says. Fresh foods will always have the most natural and organic flavours possible.
- Sodium and Sugar Content – Sodium and sugar are known to be added to certain canned foods to enhance flavour. Although it may make your food taste better, it isn’t the same effect for your health. If you are concerned that your canned food may have too many additives, draining the juices from the can rinsing your food with water before preparing or consuming may do the trick.
- Fewer Nutrients – As canned foods are highly processed, important nutrients may be stripped away and refined to the point that you don’t get the same nutritional benefits as fresh foods. Most vegetables and fruits are peeled, cut, refined and mixed with other ingredients and preservatives. Every step of the process will strip away more and more nutrients to the point that it can’t be compared to fresh foods.
- BPA Exposure – Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, is a chemical that can be found in aluminium and tin cans. Studies have suggested that BPA may be toxic even in low doses. It is known to cause health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, and others. Although studies have suggested that BPA may be harmful, more research is needed to conclude this as a fact.
Should You Eat Canned Food?
Can you live without canned food? Yes. Do you have to? Certainly not. As mentioned earlier, canned food does not make your diet unhealthy. Not watching what you eat is the main issue. If you can eat fresh foods and have the time to prepare them, then it is the better option. If you are strapped, need something urgently, then canned food is the perfect alternative.
When shopping for canned foods, always carefully consider what you are choosing. If there is a fresher option that is also affordable, it may be better to go with the fresh option as it may have fewer preservatives.
When looking to buy canned items, make sure you read the labels carefully as certain brands may have extra preservatives that are not clearly stated. Comparing brands will also help you get a better idea of which ones are healthy and which aren’t.
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