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Cheap Healthy Eats: Canned Foods
Published: 1/5/2013

Looking for a cost-effective way to get nutritional foods into your diet? Consider canned foods. Freshly canned foods offer a convenient and economical alternative to fresh foods, and can provide nutritional benefits from seasonal items all year round. Before you start perusing the canned goods section, however, keep in mind that canned foods are often high in sodium, so always choose no- or low-sodium versions. Also, a recent study indicates that daily intake of canned soup appears to raise levels of BPA, an endocrine disruptor, dramatically for short periods, so choose jarred soup over canned soup if possible. Some canned items to look for include: 

  • Fish: Sockeye salmon is a great choice, as it is always wild caught, and the canning process softens the bones, making them an edible source of calcium. Sardines packed in water or olive oil are also a good option.
  • Beans: Always a healthy addition of fiber and protein to your meals, these time-savers can be used straight from the can after a quick rinse. Look for organic varieties of kidney, pinto, black, and garbanzo.
  • Fruits and vegetables. Because fruits and vegetables are usually canned soon after they are picked, many of their nutrients are maintained. Some types of processing - heat processing of sweet corn, for example - boost antioxidant activity. Look for brands made from organically grown produce and choose canned fruit that is packed in its own natural juices or water, rather than in heavy syrups, which add unnecessary calories and sugar.

More research is needed to determine if these foods, like canned soup, also raise BPA levels. So consume canned goods in moderation to round out your diet, and eat fresh or frozen foods instead whenever your time and budget permit.

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