Canned foods are stored in cans to which preservatives are added and sealed tightly to keep them edible for a long period. The canning process goes through three stages; peeling and cutting vegetables and fruits or cooking meat to be packed in cans, then the cans are closed after adding salt or sugar and preservatives, and finally, the cans are heated to a certain temperature to kill bacteria.
Nutrition experts recommend for daily meals to be based on whole foods and avoid processed foods. This leads us to believe that all canned foods are unhealthy, but that is not the case.
Recently, it has been noticed that canned food has spread widely, as it has become the most common type of food, such as seasonal fruits, pickles, and meat, and is characterised by its low cost.
Do you feel guilty about not always replenishing your stock of fruits and vegetables from farm produce? Rest assured. You can add canned food to your menu. According to the recommendations of the French National Agency for Public Health on nutrition, physical activity and inactivity, it is important to eat five traditional fruits and vegetables per day.
If you consume the same amount of canned foods, fresh fruits and vegetables for economic or practical reasons, know that this matter will not cause you any harm, on the contrary. This is confirmed by the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, which states that we can obtain a balanced diet by consuming canned fruits and vegetables, legumes and oily fish.
But some precautions should be taken, starting with the number of times this food should be eaten. Consuming canned food two or three times a week is recommended, as this is a matter of general balance. The items consumed must be diversified as much as possible to obtain a healthy diet.
You should also beware of additives during canning, including sugar and salt, and getting rid of canned water is advised.
Canned Food Precautions
The following explains some of the possible harms of canned food:
Exposure to Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A is not used to preserve canned foods but in the manufacturing of food packaging. A study included 78 samples of canned food in search of bisphenol A. It was found that 71 of them contained the substance. The same study stated that canned fruits and tuna are the safest, as they do not contain this substance in abundance. The following shows the most prominent damages of bisphenol A:
1. Reproductive Disorders
It was found that exposure to this substance can affect the divisions of the fertilised egg. It is not formed to become a fetus. It may affect the function of the endocrine glands, reducing the secretion of its hormones, leading to an effect on puberty and ovulation, and sometimes it may lead to infertility.
2. Heart Disease
If you enjoy this type of food, you can buy low-sodium versions or make your soup with healthy ingredients that lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Excess sodium also causes the body to produce and store more water.
3. Type 2 Diabetes
BPA can contribute to high blood sugar levels, increase glucose intolerance and may alter insulin secretion, all of which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
One study indicates that exposure to BPA before and after childbirth may increase the risk of developing asthma.
Exposure to Food Poisoning
Food poisoning rarely occurs when eating canned foods; if it does happen, the cans are often expired or subject to poor storage. The reason behind this poisoning is the presence of Clostridium botulinum in canned foods, which sometimes may cause paralysis if left untreated. It should be noted in what follows the signs and symptoms of food poisoning resulting from eating spoiled canned food:
Swallowing and speaking problems.
Abdominal bloating and cramps.
Vomiting and nausea.
Doctors warn that food poisoning with botulinum toxin requires immediate treatment, as it can cause serious muscle paralysis attacks that may be fatal. Poisoning usually occurs when eating spoiled canned food and contaminated food.
One of the deadliest compounds is botulinum, which is secreted by the bacterium clostridium botulinum and is typically spread to people through canned fish or meat made in a way that does not adhere to the standards of sanitation and health care.
The victim of this poisoning typically experiences generalised symptoms, digestive issues, and maybe vomiting 12 to 24 hours after eating the infected food. After a period ranging from one to several days, other symptoms begin to appear, such as paralysis of the eye muscles, and the patient suffers from vision disorders that appear as blurred vision or double vision.
The patient then has paralysis in the muscles that move the lips, tongue, mouth, and voice box once the paralysis has extended to the rest of the facial muscles. He also might have speech and swallowing issues, which increases the chance that food, liquids, or saliva will enter his respiratory system and cause him to suffocate.
Doctors warn of the seriousness of the situation, as this can result in the patient’s death, stressing the need to undergo an immediate examination in the hospital as soon as this poisoning is suspected. Treatment includes giving the patient antitoxin, which can disrupt the effect of botulinum circulating in the blood.
Exposure to Chronic Diseases
In addition to the fact that bisphenol A causes chronic diseases, the matter is not limited to it. Still, the presence of large amounts of salt or sugar in the packages increases these risks, as it exposes the body to heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as obesity.
Tips to Avoid Canned Food Harm as Much as Possible
The following shows some tips that can be followed to reduce the damage of canned food:
Avoid eating foods that are swollen or cracked.
Choose canned items filled with water or 100% natural juice.
Choose canned food that says no added salt or low in sodium.
Wash canned foods, which can be washed, before eating them, such as; vegetables and grains.
Eat canned foods immediately after opening them, and do not leave them for a long time to reduce the possibility of mould.
Choose frozen foods instead of canned ones.
Canned Food and Pregnancy
US researchers warned pregnant women from canned, microwaved foods and plastic water bottles left in the sun after a study revealed that certain chemicals may increase the risk of miscarriage by 79%. The same advice has been given to men whose wives try to conceive, as similar compounds in the same products can harm a man’s fertility.
It is worth noting that some studies conducted on animals indicated that bisphenol A could threaten the fetus’s life. Still, so far, studies on humans have been limited. But new findings from Stanford University suggest that higher levels of contact with chemicals found in many plastic containers can significantly increase the risk of miscarriage.
Because chemicals leak out much more quickly at higher temperatures, the researchers specifically advised pregnant women to avoid cooking or heating food in plastic containers or letting plastic beverage containers heat up in the sun. The researchers gave the same advice to men whose wives are trying to conceive after a study found similar chemicals in the same plastic containers reduced a man’s fertility by 20 per cent.
Canned Foods Varieties
Here are some of the canned food that can safely be consumed:
Canned fish, including tuna, salmon, and sardines, are an inexpensive option to get protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for lowering blood pressure, inflammation and triglycerides.
You can choose between canned fish in brine or oil, while it is recommended to avoid tuna or salmon canned with sauce or marinated; Because it contains a high percentage of sodium in addition to the additives.
Tuna can be mixed with shredded carrots, red cabbage, radish slices and green onions, with a bit of lemon juice and sesame oil, and served lettuce wraps as a cold lunch. At the same time, salmon can be mixed with chopped onions, bell peppers, and chickpeas with lemon juice and parsley splash. Sardines can also be added to the sauce and served with pasta for a quick protein-rich meal.
Canned ready-made soup is a healthy option for hydrating the body and getting vegetables. Vegetable or bean soups are the healthiest options, but you still need to check the percentage of sodium. For example, just one cup of tomato soup contains between 710 and 1,100 milligrams of sodium, which is high compared to the recommended daily limit of less than 2,300 milligrams.
Eating more whole grains – such as brown rice, quinoa and barley – is good for digestive health, and the process of cooking whole grains at home takes an hour or more; in contrast, pre-cooked canned grains are ready to eat within 90 seconds of heating them in the microwave. When buying pre-cooked canned cereal, you should choose whole grains free from additives such as salt and sugar.
Nuts, cheese, dried fruits, legumes or frozen vegetables can be added to some more ingredients for a quick dinner.
Tofu, tempeh, edamame, canned beans, and other legumes are great sources of plant-based protein and fibre, and since most dried beans take some time to cook, buying them can save a lot of time.
When buying tofu or tempeh, choose firm types for stir-frying or baked dishes and soft types for making desserts. Ensure that canned beans and peas are low in sodium. One study found that draining and rinsing canned beans in cold water can reduce sodium by up to 41%.
Roasted chicken is no longer the only item in many deli sections; you can also find pre-cooked chicken. When buying this type of food, you should focus on the percentage of sodium, as it is high in marinated chicken. At the same time, it is low in fresh or frozen cooked chicken.
You can use cooked chicken to prepare a salad or increase the protein content of a pasta dish, or by cutting chicken breasts and placing them in tortilla bread with chopped tomatoes, green onions and crunchy lettuce, or by mixing them with pineapple pieces and red peppers and placing them over brown rice or quinoa grains to obtain on a healthy cereal plate.
For ready sauce, the tomato paste with the brilliant red tomato pigment lycopene can be absorbed and utilised by the body more effectively. Strong antioxidant lycopene may lower the chance of developing prostate and other cancers. Studies have also proved that lycopene potentially prevents strokes since it is fat-soluble, meaning it gets better absorbed when consumed with fats, such as olive oil.
Although it’s a myth that frozen product is less nutrient-dense than fresh product, fresh vegetables can be frozen immediately to maintain flavour and nutrients. When choosing frozen, you should expect higher levels of folic acid and vitamin C because these nutrients are particularly susceptible to being lost in green leafy vegetables like spinach.
In addition to being a wonderful source of unsaturated fats for heart health, peanut butter has a nice balance of protein and fibre that helps you feel fuller for longer. Some people develop allergies as a result, though.
In a nutshell, everything can be unhealthy when consumed in large quantities or without knowing how to choose the right product. Well! Now you know how and when to consume canned foods and how to prepare delicious snacks using them. Bon Appetit!