Canned foods are a convenient way to buy fruits, vegetables and meats without having to worry about them becoming spoiled. Foods that have been sealed inside of a can have a nearly unlimited shelf life, making them ideal for survival rations, travel fare or just reducing the frequency of your trips to the store.
However, there has been some debate in recent years as to whether or not canned food is good or bad for health. In order to help you make better decisions for feeding yourself and your family, here are the benefits and disadvantages of canned foods.
- VarietyAlmost anything than can be purchased fresh may also be found in canned form. Some things are also available only in a can such as many exotic fruits, certain varieties of mushrooms and some fish. It’s hard to get bored with your diet when you eat a lot of canned food.
- CostFoods from a can are almost always cheaper than their fresh counterparts. Because food can be harvested and then immediately packed, it doesn’t require refrigeration or special care on its long journey to your grocer’s shelves. Furthermore, stores don’t have to worry about it going bad before it can be sold like with fresh foods. This combination of circumstances means that stores are able to charge less money for canned goods.
- SafetyThanks to modern food preservation standards, food-borne illness from canned goods is practically unheard of these days. During the manufacturing process, the cans are sterilized and filled with the product. After this, the food is cooked inside of the can and then sealed. The only time that modern canned foods are considered potentially hazardous is when the cans are severely dented, often near the top and bottom seals. However, most people agree that it is still safe to consume dented goods as long as you can hear pressure being released when you open them.
- ConvenienceCanned foods are more convenient than fresh ones because you don’t have to wash them, stuff them into your refrigerator or treat them gently. You can stack cans of food anywhere such as cabinets, pantries, closets and even under beds. When you want to use them, all you have to do is open the can and dump the contents into a cooking receptacle or dish. If you’d prefer, you could even eat straight from the can!
- BPABPA (bisphenol A) is a chemical commonly used to coat the inside of cans to keep the metal from corroding or leaching into the food. In recent years, however, medical science has begin to link this chemical to numerous health problems such as early puberty, developmental disorders and even cancer. BPA is a potent endocrine disruptor, meaning that it interferes with the body’s normal hormone functions that regulate everything from growth to metabolism to mental function.
- Added SugarSome canned vegetables and almost all canned fruit have sugar added to them to enhance their flavor. Sugar consumption is one of the leading causes of obesity and related diseases in America and canned goods are sources that are often overlooked. However, you can avoid this by simply reading labels before you buy.
- Inferior NutritionMany people don’t realize that they’re not getting as much essential nutrition from canned food as they do from fresh. The process by which the food is packed destroys most of their nutrients and renders them practically useless. In order to be healthy, your body needs plenty of vitamins and minerals and this would be impractical to try to achieve on a diet that consists of mostly canned food.
While canned goods are convenient, inexpensive and widely varied, they offer little in the way of nutrition and are often loaded with sugar. In addition, the presence of chemicals like BPA make them an unacceptable risk, especially for children. Overall, you’re better off sticking to fresh foods or foods that you can yourself at home.