[Article updated on 19/09/2023]
Is canned food a good or bad idea for your health? Well, we owe this superb invention to Nicolas Appert, dating from the 18th century.
Before reading on
I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.
The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.
The food is in fact blanched, that is to say pre-cooked, placed in glass or metal jars, and subjected to a heat treatment at more than 100°C which is called appertisation (which comes from the name of its inventor).
This heat treatment helps rid the food of microorganisms, toxins and enzymes.
Is it better to eat a fresh vegetable?
It is not necessarily better for your health to eat a fresh vegetable rather than a canned one. A canned vegetable can even be better than a fresh one because fresh produce loses up to 45% of its nutritional value during transport.
But in fact, you have to compare canned vegetables with fresh vegetables cooked, because those in cans have already gone through the cooking stage. Fiber intake, sugars (=carbohydrates) and proteins remain the same.
Canned goods are certainly less appealing than bright early vegetables, but they have several significant advantages:
- The picking is done when ripe and the vegetables are quickly canned. It is an airtight environment, without oxygen or light, but fresh vegetables are sensitive to oxygen and light once ripe!
- In terms of hygiene, we cannot do better: conservation is very safe and does not present microbiological risks.
- Generally speaking, canned foods are economical.
- In addition, “canned vegetables” are practical: it is still very convenient to have them on hand, especially for people who do not have time to cook or who have a kitchenette.
And all this thanks to the fact that they keep for a very long time, that is to say, months, years,… moreover you can exceed the expiry date indicated on them without fear (DDM: Expiration date Minimal Durability), the food may just have lost a little flavor but no health risk.
But be careful, check that the can is not rusty or bulging.
Another good point and not the least: encouraging us to vary our toppings. Thanks to canning there is a wide variety of proposals.
This allows you to discover new products from other countries. You will easily find pineapples, Andalusian gazpacho soup, or even bamboo shoots to enjoy hot in a soup!
And then, certain vegetables would be forgotten without this packaging: no one buys salsify at the greengrocer anymore!
Any disadvantages to canned goods all the same?
Some disadvantages however:
- the addition of salt, especially for people with specific diets where they must reduce their salt intake, such as in high blood pressure for example.
- And then there are also added sugars.
- I would also add that the taste and texture are quite different from a vegetable made…
- Finally, some vegetables are not made for canned life: eggplant doesn’t tolerate that much. Its taste will be unusual and its appearance will not really tempt you.
My advice: Systematically rinse canned foods and do not cook your vegetables with the preserved juice, especially not!
And how are they cooked?
In terms of cooking, there is no need to simmer them for hours since they are already cooked.
Otherwise, some properties, such as vitamin C, will be lost with the additional heat: a few minutes in a pan will be enough.
But the best thing is to eat them in salads. You can add a lemon juice vinaigrette with some herbs for example.
Also note that it is more judicious to eat certain canned vegetables in winter: and yes, out of season, it is better to eat canned tomatoes rather than fresh because otherwise they have few vitamins because there is less sun and above all they will lack taste.
And to choose your canned goods carefully, choose metal ones, their opacity protects the vegetables from light, to which they are sensitive once ripe.
For canned preparations such as paellas or ravioli, read the label carefully: more the list of ingredients is short, the better.
To sum up
- ADVANTAGES: practical, economical, long shelf life, wide variety all year round (very practical for tomatoes for example).
- DISADVANTAGES: added salt, added sugar, altered texture and taste.
- Consider rinsing canned foods