The United States is facing serious food inflation. PrepperWebsite.com host Todd Sepulveda recommends that budget-minded preppers start with a menu of necessary items such as dry food and canned goods, which are still plentiful at the grocery store.
Canned foods, which can be preserved for a long time, are on the top of the food stocking list.
Canned food has several advantages, as it is ready to eat and has a long shelf life. However, it is also considered by many to be a processed food with little nutritional value and harmful to our health due to the addition of preservatives. Is canned food really that bad? How can we eat it in a healthy way?
Canned Food is More Nutritious Than You Think
Dr. Yingrong Wu, CEO of the Nutrition Foundation of Taiwan, said that the perception of canned food being “unhealthy” is inaccurate.
In fact, canned food does not need to add preservatives. The manufacturing process of canned food involves sterilizing food at high temperatures and sealing the containers to make it sterile, thus avoiding spoilage.
Some consumers are concerned that the high temperature processing of canned food would damage the nutritional content of the food. In fact, in the process of heating and cooking food, it loses the same level of nutrients. For instance, if you roast meat in the oven for a long time, there is not much difference in the amount of nutrients lost compared to canned meat. The only difference between the two is that you can control the temperature when you cook on your own.
Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and minerals are retained in relatively large amounts after being processed into canned food at high temperatures.
Vegetables and fruits contain many water-soluble vitamins (vitamins C and B group), which are lost at high temperatures, so it is best to eat them fresh. Canned fruits, in particular, lose the most nutrients after heating.
Common canned vegetables include canned corn and tomatoes. Lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants in corn, and vitamin A, which helps repair the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, are fat-soluble and are not easily lost through canning. Dr. Wu said that when she’s cooking, she likes to use canned corn as an ingredient.
When tomatoes are processed into canned tomato paste, the lycopene in them, which helps prevent cancer, increases. According to the Formosa Cancer Foundation, lycopene is not easily destroyed by high heat cooking, and lycopene increases three to four times in unsalted canned tomatoes.
Fresh meat and fish are rich in vitamin B group, and some of these nutrients are lost after canning. However, the main nutrients are mostly fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, lipids and proteins, so there is little difference in nutrition between eating canned fish and meat and cooking your own fish and meat at home.
Cook Canned Food With Fresh Ingredients to Add Nutrition Without More Seasoning
Although canned food retains most of the nutrients, there are still two problems. Let’s take canned meat as an example:
The canning process cannot be seen: There is no way to know the quality and freshness of the meat used in the canning process, whereas you can choose your own fresh ingredients when you go grocery shopping. However, some brand names offer canned products with reliable quality.
Relatively heavy seasoning: When you cook by yourself, you can control the amount of seasoning, whereas canned food can have more seasoning, with high salt and fat contents.
It is best not to eat canned food directly out of the can. Dr. Wu recommended adding it to fresh ingredients and stir-frying them together, by using the oil and salt from the can to flavor the entire dish without adding more seasoning.
Any canned food can be paired with raw ingredients, and she recommended several canned food recipes.
Scrambled Eggs With Tuna
Use the oil from the canned tuna to scramble several eggs, and then add the tuna to the stir-fry.
The canned tuna has a salty flavor, so scrambling eggs with it dilutes the salt content of the can. And you can even add corn kernels to enrich the taste and sweetness of the dish.
Spaghetti With Tomato Meat Sauce
① Boil pasta in water for a few minutes, drain it, and set aside.
② Slice some garlic and stir fry it with the canned meat sauce. As the canned meat sauce already has oil in it, there’s no need to add more oil. Pour in the can of tomato paste and sauté briefly, then add the pasta and mix.
You can add more green leafy or other vegetables to add color to this pasta dish. Dr. Wu recommended adding onions and mushrooms to the stir-fry, and there’s no need for additional seasoning.
Roasted Eel Rolls or Rice Balls
Canned roasted eel is already sweet and tasty, so you can mix its sauce with white rice and vinegar. Then add some vegetables, such as carrots and cauliflower, and then add the roasted eel to make a roll or rice balls.
When cooking canned food, besides not adding any more seasoning, another important point is to have balanced nutrition. Canned meat should be topped with fresh vegetables, while canned vegetables should be prepared together with meat. For example, you can add canned shredded bamboo shoots with sliced meat to make stir-fried shredded bamboo shoots.
Pay Attention to Portion Size and Frequency of Canned Food Meals
Like all processed foods, some canned foods are labeled with a large number of additives that are difficult for the general public to understand, such as 5′-hypoxanthine disodium phosphate and 5′-guanine disodium phosphate.
Dr. Wu explained that both of the above additives are legally addable freshness enhancers, which are found, for example, in oyster sauce and chicken bouillon cubes. Although anything that is legally addable is safe, she still stressed, “If you eat a lot of it every day, then it’s not safe.”
This is because after all, canned food contains some additives, so you must pay attention to the portion size and frequency of canned food meals. Everything in moderation.