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Using Tinned Food

April 15th, 2020 | Blog

As an alternative to fresh foods we thought you would like to know why you should consider tinned foods instead.  Using tinned foods can help increase your daily intake of nutritious foods and boost your five a day too. Tinned fruit and veg can be just as healthy as fresh and roughly the same quantity (80g) counts as a portion towards your five a day.

Tinned foods are often thought to be less nutritious than fresh foods, but research shows that this is not always true, in fact, canning preserves most of a food’s nutrients. Protein, carbohydrates, and fat are unaffected by the process. Most minerals and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K are also retained. However, since canning typically involves high heat, water-soluble vitamins like vitamins C and B can be damaged. These vitamins are sensitive to heat and air in general, so they can also be lost during normal processing, cooking, and storage methods used at home. However, while the canning process may damage certain vitamins, amounts of other healthy compounds may increase. For example, tomatoes release more antioxidants when heated, making canned varieties of these foods an even better source of antioxidants.

Six reasons to use more tinned foods

  1. Less waste – any leftover tinned foods can be placed in a suitable container and kept in the fridge and eaten according to the manufacturer’s guidance.
  2. Keeps fresher for longer – unlike fresh fruit and veg, their tinned counterparts keep for much longer. Nutrients don’t degrade as quickly either.
  3. No preparation required – food items are washed, sliced or peeled ready to be instantly used
  4. Save money – they are often cheaper compared to fresh, especially if you are buying out of season.
  5. Access all year round – you’re not limited by the seasons and can have any food at any time of year.
  6. Convenience – you can buy them when they are on offer and store for long periods of time.

Healthy Eating Tips

  1. Choose fruit that’s tinned in fruit juice as even those in light syrup contain a lot of sugar.
  2. Avoid veg tinned in salt water (or brine) – too much salt raises your blood pressure, which puts you at risk of cardiovascular disease.
  3. Best to choose fish tinned in spring water or tomato sauce as these are lower in calories.

Health & Hygiene Tips

  • Don’t buy or use any tins with dents, bulges or leaks.
  • Store all tinned produce in areas that are cool and dry. Avoid storing these goods in damp places, such as near the stove or sink, garage or basement.
  • For acidic foods such as tomatoes, store only up to 18 months. For non-acidic foods such as meats and vegetables, two to five years.
  • Wash cans before you open them to avoid contaminating the contents.
  • Not used a whole tin of fish? Then transfer any leftovers into a container with a lid or a covered bowl and pop into the fridge for up to two days – don’t store it in the open tin as the metal may transfer to the fish.

Rachel Efemey (RD) – Advanced Health Improvement Practitioner – 1/4/20

Adapted from Diabetes UK Top tips for using tinned and frozen fruit and veg (n/d) available at: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/cooking-for-people-with-diabetes/cooking-on-a-budget/top-tips-for-using-tinned-and-frozen-fruit-and-veg); Canned Food: Good or Bad (n/d) available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/canned-food-good-or-bad#benefits; NHS Fish and Shellfish (2018) available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/fish-and-shellfish-nutrition/