If someone opened your kitchen cupboards, they are likely to come across some form of canned food. The convenience of opening a can or two and having a full meal without wasting time preparing it prompts most people to store canned goods in their homes. Are Canned Foods Bad for You?
Most individuals can go days without cooking thanks to these foods. This begs the question: are canned foods bad for you?
Some people consider canned foods to be less nutritious than frozen or fresh foods, while others consider them to be safe and convenient to eat. Also, some claim that canned foods contain harmful ingredients due to the preservation process and should be avoided. However, let’s look objectively at the safety, dangers, and safe process of choosing canned foods.
What Is Canned Food?
Canned foods are foods that have been processed, packed, and sealed in an airtight container to help prolong their shelf life.
This process was used in the 18th century to provide soldiers with a safe and balanced diet during wartime. Fruit, beans, meat, seafood, and vegetables are the common canned foods you are likely to find on your supermarket shelves.
Does Canning Affect the Nutritional Value of Preserved Foods?
Canned foods are often considered less nutritious than fresh foods, but recent research shows otherwise. Some canned vegetables have higher nutrient concentrations than frozen vegetables. And some proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are not affected by the canning process either. In addition, most vitamins remain unchanged, making the food healthy for human consumption.
However, because canning involves high heat, some soluble vitamins such as vitamins C and B can be damaged, reducing the nutritional value of the food. Likewise, these vitamins lose their effectiveness when cooked at home; therefore, we can’t blame the loss of nutrients on the canning process.
For some foods, such as corn and tomatoes, canning helps them release beneficial antioxidants, making them healthier for consumption. This shows these foods may still contain more nutrients than fresh produce.
Are Canned Foods Convenient, Affordable, and Have a Longer Shelf Life?
The answer is a resounding yes!
They are a convenient way to prepare a meal. Also, some of them offer nutritious solutions for people who are always on the go, which makes them convenient for students, soldiers, busy professionals, or anyone that doesn’t like grocery shopping or cooking.
Moreover, some parts of the world experience shortage of quality, nutrient-dense food, and the canning industry ensure that these people have access to food all year round.
Thanks to recent innovations, almost all foods can now be canned. In addition, these foods can be stored for years without losing their nutritional content.
What’s more, they offer easy transportation logistics when delivered to supermarkets, grocery stores, war zones, or drought areas.
Is It True That They May Contain Traces of BPA?
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical commonly used to preserve packaged foods, including canned ones.
Initial studies had shown that over 90% of canned foods contain this chemical and that consumption leads to exposure. For example, one study showed that participants who consumed canned soup daily had a significant increase in the amount of BPA in their urine.
However, recent studies show that most food companies no longer use BPA in their linings; thus, some foods are safe and do not contain traces of BPA.
It is important to note that BPA has been linked to serious health complications such as diabetes, heart disease, and male reproductive system dysfunction. So if you want to minimize your exposure to BPA, you should avoid eating canned foods on a regular basis.
Do Canned Foods Contain Deadly Bacteria?
This is a controversial topic about the safety of canned foods. However, harmful bacteria are rarely found in canned foods. They only occur when the canning process is faulty, leading to the growth of bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum, which is deadly to the body.
Eating such contaminated foods may cause botulism, which can lead to paralysis or death if left untreated. Most of these health problems are related to foods canned at home. Commercially canned foods rarely cause botulism. However, avoid food from a damaged or dented can.
Do Canned Foods Contain Preservatives?
Depending on the expected shelf life and type of food, sugar, salt, and other preservatives are often used in the canning process. This explains why canned foods often taste salty. Although this may not be a health risk for most people, it can be an issue for those with underlying conditions such as high blood pressure.
Nonetheless, any form of added sugar is never good for you. It has been linked to the development of chronic conditions, including heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline, non-alcoholic fatty liver, and some forms of cancer.
In addition, some canning methods may use chemical or natural preservatives to extend shelf life and improve the texture and taste of food.
How to Choose the Right Canned Food?
The first step is to take the time to read the ingredient list on the can.
Check the preservation methods and confirm any use of additives.
For those with too much salt, opt for the no salt added variety.
Also, draining and rinsing can significantly reduce the sugar, salt, and other preservative content. However, this may wash away most nutrients. And it’s more than likely that these preservatives have been absorbed into the food.
So read your labels carefully and go for established brands as they usually maintain high hygiene and safety standards when it comes to preservation.
Canned foods are a great alternative if you do not have access to fresh foods.
They are rich in nutrients and highly convenient to consume.
However, be aware of the harmful effects of BPA on health as well as preservatives like added sugar and excessive salt.
Generally, when shopping for canned foods, pay attention to the ingredients list to ensure you are making the right choice.
But ultimately, if you have access to fresh food, let canned foods be your last resort as a source of nutrition.
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