This article explains everything you need to know about canned foods.
What Is Canned Food?
Canning is a method used to preserve foods for long periods of time by packing them in airtight containers.
Canning was first developed in the late 18th century as a way to provide a stable food source for soldiers and sailors at war.
The canning process can vary slightly from one product to another, but there are three main steps. These include:
Processing: Food is peeled, sliced, chopped, pitted, boned, shelled or cooked.
Sealing: The processed food is sealed in cans.
Heating: Cans are heated to kill harmful bacteria and prevent spoiling.
This allows food to be shelf-stable and safe to eat for 1 to 5 years or longer.
Common canned foods include fruits, vegetables, beans, soups, meats and seafood.
Bottom Line: Canning is a method used to preserve foods for long periods of time. There are three main steps: processing, sealing and heating.
How Does Canning Affect Nutrient Levels?
Canned foods are often thought to be less nutritious than fresh or frozen foods, but research shows that this is not always true.
In fact, canning preserves most of a food’s nutrients.
Protein, carbs and fat are unaffected by the process. Most minerals and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K are also retained.
Therefore, studies show that foods high in certain nutrients are still high in the same nutrients after being canned (1, 2).
Yet since canning typically involves high heat, water-soluble vitamins like vitamin Cand vitamin B can be damaged (3, 4, 5).
These vitamins are sensitive to heat and air in general, so they can also be lost during normal processing, cooking and storage methods used at home.
However, while the canning process may damage certain vitamins, amounts of other healthy compounds increase (6).
For example, tomatoes and corn release more antioxidants when heated, making canned varieties an even better source of antioxidants (7, 8).
Changes in individual nutrient levels aside, canned foods are good sources of important vitamins and minerals.
In one study, people who ate 6 or more canned items per week had higher intakes of 17 essential nutrients than those who ate 2 or fewer canned items per week (9).
Bottom Line: Some nutrient levels may decrease as a result of the canning process, while others can increase. Overall, canned foods can provide comparable nutrients to their fresh or frozen counterparts.
Canned Foods Are Affordable, Convenient and Don’t Spoil Easily