Adding canned goods to your shopping cart can be a simple and inexpensive way to eat more fruits, vegetables, and add protein and fiber to your meals. They are also a great backup solution when you need to prepare a healthy meal in record time. While there are many canned foods, some are better than others.

We’ve put together a list of tips on what to look for when buying canned food and how to incorporate canned food into your kitchen:

  1. Check the salt.

Brine (salty liquid) is often used in canning, but other liquids can also be used. Look for products whose label says “no added salt”. Compare different brands and products and choose the one with the least sodium, ideally less than 120mg/100g.

For vegetables and legumes, you can reduce some of the salt content by rinsing the vegetables (not canned tomatoes) under running cold water before using them.

  1. Check the sugar content.

Canned goods often contain added sugars for taste and preservation. You will find the list of sugars both on the ingredient list and on the nutrition information panel. Sugar can appear in canned foods under names such as juices, syrups, molasses and honey. Choose products that have no added sugar or are canned in juice rather than syrup for a healthier choice.

  1. Vegetables.

Add variety to your meals by using a mix of fresh, canned and/or frozen vegetables. Canned vegetables such as crushed tomatoes make an excellent base for pasta sauces. Canned corn and kidney beans can add color and fiber to Mexican bean nachos, and why not add canned beets to your burger? They all count towards your 5 servings of vegetables per day.

  1. Legumes.

Canned legumes (eg, chickpeas, kidney beans, and lentils) are a good source of protein and prebiotics, which are good for gut health. Try replacing all or part of the chicken in your favorite curry with chickpeas, or replacing half the hash in your Bolognese with a can of brown lentils. Pulses are also a great way to reduce the cost of your meals, while being filling and healthier.

  1. Fruits.

Canned fruits are a great way to add variety to your meals, especially when certain fruits are out of season. Canned fruits are often sneaky sources of added sugars, so look for canned fruits in juice, rather than syrups, and with no added sugars (check the ingredient list!). Try adding passion fruit pulp or canned peaches to your morning muesli, pineapple to your pizza, or make a smoothie with canned mangoes.

  1. Proteins.

Canned tuna, sardines, mackerel and salmon are a convenient source of protein and healthy fats that don’t require any additional cooking. So they can be easily tossed into a salad, pasta or rice dish, or added to a sandwich. Choose lower salt options and flavor them yourself with different herbs and spices.

  1. Dents and damage.

Canned foods are a great pantry staple because they last longer than fresh. This is because during the canning process, food is heat treated to kill bacteria, and a vacuum seal is created. Different liquids are used in the canning process to prevent the growth of bacteria.

However, sometimes the boxes are dented or damaged. This can compromise the sterile environment created during the canning process. Choose dent-free cans and avoid damaged cans that show signs of swelling, leaks, rust or scratches, broken seals.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.