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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Canned Goods​

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Canned goods tend to get a bad rap. All too often, they’re considered inferior to fresh foods — a “last resort” when there’s nothing else to eat. But it’s time to give them the recognition they deserve. In reality, canned goods — think fruits, veggies, fish, beans, and more — are weeknight superheroes, budget-friendly flavor boosters, and, yes, nutritional powerhouses. Here are five canned food facts that everyone should know. 

Canned produce is just as nutritious as fresh. Fruits and vegetables are often canned within hours of being harvested, which locks in their nutritional quality and ensures they taste great, too. In some cases, canned foods offer even more nutrients than fresh: canned tomatoes, for example, have a higher lycopene content (a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits), because the heat used in processing makes it easier for us to absorb. 


Canned foods are minimally processed. Many of us have been taught that “processed foods are bad.” But there’s a broad spectrum when it comes to how much something is processed. Unlike chips and sugary drinks, which are ultra-processed to include artificial colors and flavors, canned fruits, veggies, and beans are minimally processed for the sole purpose of preservation. 


Not all canned goods are high in sodium. Not only are there plenty of no and low-sodium options available, but rinsing canned beans, fruits, veggies, and fish will further decrease their sodium level. If you’re concerned about the levels of sodium in your canned foods, use these FDA guidelines to help decode the nutritional labels so you can find the best option for you. 


You don’t have to wash canned beans. If you buy no-sodium beans or aren’t watching your sodium intake, you certainly don’t have to wash them. If you’re making a soup or stew, for instance, the starchy, flavorful liquid can act as a thickener. And vegans will want to save the aquafaba, or the liquid from a can of chickpeas, to use as an egg white substitute. 


Roast your canned beans — and your canned vegetables, too. If we’ve convinced you to buy more canned goods but still don’t love the way they taste, remember: you don’t have to eat them straight from the can! Whether you’re cooking with chickpeas or black beans, mushrooms or green beans, simply drain and rinse the contents of the can, roast them in a hot oven, then season to your liking. 


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