by: Holly Ellman and Dr. Anne VanBeber
February is National Canned Food Month, and Anne VanBeber, professor and chair, Department of Nutritional Sciences, says canned goods definitely have a place in a balanced diet. “Canned fruits and vegetables can be positive substitutions for fresh or frozen when the latter is not available or if the latter is out of budget range for someone. Canned foods are often economical for people on tight budgets. They are included in the market basket for the USDA Thrifty Food Plan, which is the food plan that the SNAP (food stamp) program is based on.
Look for varieties that are lower in sodium or contain salt-free. Some canned foods are high in sodium, and that could end up providing more sodium in the diet than is recommended. Canned beans (legumes) are an excellent way to add this important food to the diet. They are quick to use, as opposed to the dried beans in the bag, which often have to be soaked and cooked for a couple of hours before they can be eaten. I highly recommend canned beans (black, navy, northern, chickpea, lentils, kidney, pinto, black-eyed peas) as a food item to be included every day. Rinse and drain the beans when using them to reduce the sodium content.
Consumers should look for canned fruits that are packed in water and have no added sugar. This can be an economical way to get fruit in your diet, and some seasonal fruits are priced lower in the winter as well. Certain fruits and vegetables have a time when they are cheaper and in season.”