In addition to Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, and Presidents’ Day, February is also known as National Canned Food Month. Canned foods are affordable, convenient, and have a long shelf life. But not all canned foods are the most nutritious options available if you’re trying to live a naturally healthy life.
Here’s how to choose the healthiest canned food options and perhaps also take a DIY approach to celebrating National Canned Food Month this February.
Risks of Canned Food
To preserve food in cans and keep it tasty and safe to eat for a long time, some manufacturers pack these foods with lots of sodium, which can negatively affect blood pressure. Although it is far less common these days, a small percentage of canned foods still have linings with the chemical BPA.
Some canned vegetables and fruits lose nutritional value during the canning process, making them less nutritious than frozen or fresh produce. This is because the canning process typically involves using high heat that affects soluble vitamins, such as vitamins B and C. However, canned produce is certainly better to eat than no fruits and vegetables at all!
Choosing Healthy Canned Food
When you are buying canned foods, look for products with labels that say, “low sodium,” “no salt or sugar added,” and “BPA-free.” Choose canned foods with no additives for preservation, and if you’re not sure, drain away the liquid that comes in the can and rinse the food before eating it. This can wash away excess sugar, salt, and preservatives that you don’t want in your meal.
Keep track of the dates printed on canned foods so that you aren’t eating something that has been sitting in the pantry for too long and has spoiled over time. Some of the best foods buy in canned form and incorporate into recipes are beans, diced tomatoes, fish, corn, and olives.
Canning Your Own Food
If you want to get a bit creative and take a DIY approach to eating more naturally, consider canning your own food in jars. Basic canning is fairly beginner-friendly and a safe preservation method when done correctly.
The canning process involves putting foods in jars, heating them to destroy microorganisms, inactivating enzymes to prevent spoilage, and vacuum-sealing the food to prevent air exposure. Canning methods include the boiling water bath method, atmospheric steam canning method, and pressure canning method. There are numerous YouTube tutorials and blogs that offer step-by-step instructions about how to can your own food, which can be a fun hobby if you get into it!
What are your favorite canned foods to eat, and how do you prepare them? Share your ideas with us in the comment section below.