Did You Know?

Canned foods sometimes get a bad rap and shoppers often are advised to avoid or limit purchases from the center aisles of their local food market. But the truth is canned foods offer great nutrition, value and convenience. The Canned Food Alliance commissioned a consumer survey to explore knowledge about canned foods and uncovered some common misperceptions. We also pulled together some fun facts you might not know about canned foods. Enjoy!


CANNED FOOD FACTS

HEALTH & NUTRITION BENEFITS OF CANNED FOODS

THE CANNING PROCESS




CANNED FOOD FACTS

  • Canned foods count toward the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary recommendations. In fact, all forms (canned, fresh, frozen and dried) of fruits, vegetables, beans, meats and seafood are recommended to ensure a proper balance of nutrients.
  • Canned fruits, vegetables and beans are considered minimally processed. After being picked at peak ripeness and quality, fruits and vegetables travel to a local cannery to be cleaned, chopped, peeled and or/ stemmed (if necessary). After the food is sealed, the cans are quickly heated to preserve the contents and to create an airtight seal to keep food fresh and safe until eaten. 
  • Canned foods do not require preservatives. Just as when canned at home, foods sold in cans are already cooked, so they do not need preservatives to prevent spoilage. In fact, most canned foods are preservative-free.
  • Not all canned foods have added salt. In fact, many canned food products are available in low-sodium and no-salt added alternatives.
  • Canned foods do not require salt or sodium for preservation, and manufacturers are increasingly answering the demand for lower sodium varieties of your favorite canned foods. 
  • Draining and rinsing canned food reduces sodium further by up to 41%.  Draining alone reduces sodium by 36%

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HEALTH & NUTRITION BENEFITS OF CANNED FOODS

  • Almost all canned vegetables and canned fruits are fat free.
  • Based on epidemiological studies, canned carrots, as part of an over-healthful diet, have the potential for reducing the risk of cancer. 
  • Canned tomatoes are higher in lycopene than their fresh counterparts. Lycopene appears to be effective in helping to reduce the risk of cancer. In fact, lycopene may be more effective when it is consumed after tomatoes are canned or cooked.
  • Canned pumpkin is loaded with beta carotene, a substance from plants that converts to vitamin A and is said to protect against certain types of cancer and heart disease.  Canned pumpkin contains a higher concentration of beta carotene than fresh pumpkin because of the canning process. 
  • Carotenes are antioxidants that provide protection for the body's cells. Canned apricots, carrots, peaches, pumpkin, spinach and sweet potatoes are all high in carotenes.
  • Canned beans of all types (black beans, red beans, butter beans, garbanzo beans, etc.) are often fat free. They're high in fiber and rich in protein, and they may be used right from the can to add flavor, color and texture to a variety of meals. 
  • Beans also have antioxidants - the darker the color, the more antioxidants they have!
  • Canned poultry and fish, both protein foods, are comparable to their fresh-cooked counterparts in nutritional value. Protein is not lost during the canning process. And some varieties of canned fish tend to have higher calcium levels than their freshly cooked counterparts.
  • Canned seafood, particularly canned salmon and tuna, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Many canned fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin A.  Canned products have comparable levels of vitamin A to their fresh or frozen counterparts.  
  • One-half cup of canned pumpkin contains three times more vitamin A than one-half cup of fresh, cooked pumpkin. [U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2005]
  • Some canned foods such as canned asparagus, grapefruits and pineapple are significant sources of vitamin C. Most vitamin C is retained after being canned and remains stable during the two-year shelf life of the product.  
  • Fiber is unchanged regardless of fruit or vegetable form.  In general, the USDA database shows that fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables contained similar amounts of fiber.  

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THE CANNING PROCESS

  • Canning is one of the safest ways to preserve foods. To retain peak quality, the shelf life of canned food is at least two years, and the vitamin levels in canned food remain stable during the shelf life.
  • Canned food does not require preservatives and most canned foods are preservative-free.  
  • Cans are endlessly recyclable without loss of strength or quality.  At 71%, steel cans boast the highest recycling rate of all food packages in the U.S.
  • Canned fruits and vegetables are packed at the peak of ripeness, cooked quickly at high temperatures and sterilized in steel cans to keep nutrients in and impurities out.
  • Most canned fruits and vegetables are packed within 100 miles of the field. 
  • Once the cans are sealed and heat processed, the food maintains its high eating quality for more than two years and is safe to eat as long as the container is not damaged in any way.

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