Healthy Living

Canned Foods Nutritionists Recommend Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Running out of fresh food to consume or cook at home? Is fresh produce in limited stock at the supermarket at the moment? Do not despair, because their canned versions are just as healthy. 

"The canning process, which has been used to preserve food for centuries, keeps food safe and nutritious until consumed, which not only cuts back on food waste, but also means your pantry holds a treasure of quick meal solutions," registered dietitian Samantha Cassetty stated.

When choosing canned foods, make sure that they are not only low both in sugar and sodium, but also free of artificial preservatives and ingredients. The good news is that various nutritionists have recommended the following cannd goods for you to stock up on amid the coronavirus crisis:

Canned Pumpkin
This seemingly seasonal item is a year-long favorite among dietitians. "I stock my pantry with canned organic pumpkin throughout the year to incorporate into smoothies, treats and even savory dishes, like pumpkin hummus and soup," said New York and Los Angeles-based registered dietitian and performance nutritionist Cynthia Sass.

Loaded with essential nutrients, canned pumpkins are among Sass' top canned choices. She explained that half a cup of pumpkin puree packs nearly 400 percent of the daily recommended target for vitamin A, which not only "supports immunity, lung, eye and skin health" but "has been shown to protect against cognitive decline." "The fiber in pumpkin supports digestive health and bowel regularity, boosts fullness and helps control blood sugar and insulin regulation, which makes pumpkin a great pre-exercise fuel," Sass said. She added that pumpkin also supplies bone-boosting vitamin K, immune-supporting vitamin C, and muscle-assisting potassium.

Another canned pumpkin lover is Chicago-based culinary nutritionist and author Sara Haas. "Beyond its obvious uses for quick breads, pancakes and other baked goods," Haas loves using canned pumpkin as an "earthy" binder in vegetable-based burgers. "It's also delicious when cooked low and slow with broth and seasonal aromatics, and finished with a (tiny) touch of cream as a flavorful sauce for whole grain pasta," she said.

Canned Beans
Canned beans amp up the protein and fiber content of salads, pasta dishes, soups and even some desserts once you open them. 

"Canned beans form the basis of the three easiest, fastest and cheapest weeknight family meals in my repertoire," said NYC-based dietitian Tamara Duker Freuman. "Canned black beans doctored up with some cumin and oregano are the basis of a Mexican-style bowl I serve with brown rice or quinoa, avocado and other toppings; canned cannellini beans are the star ingredient of a quick white chili I make with ground turkey, onions and garlic; and I mix canned chickpeas with a jar of Indian-style simmer sauce or pre-mixed spice blend for a quick South Asian curry, served with rice, plain yogurt and a cilantro garnish." 

Brooklyn-based nutrition and wellness expert Frances Largeman-Roth also considers canned beans her favorite, having stocked a few cans in her kitchen. "I use them for everything from weekend quesadillas to my Bison and Black Bean Chili. My oldest daughter doesn't eat much meat, but she loves black beans, so I like incorporating them into flexitarian meals for her. Black beans, like other pulses, are such a wonderful source of fiber and plant-based protein, with 7 grams each per 1/2 cup serving. One serving also contains 15 percent of your daily requirement for iron, which makes black beans an especially great ingredient for women and teens," she noted. 

For NYC-based nutritionist Keri Gans, canned beans serve as basis for quick home-cooked meals that require little work, such as the cooked bow tie pasta she sautes with olive oil before adding garlic, spinach, cannellini beans and parmesan cheese. "One of my favorite canned foods is legumes, especially black beans and cannellini beans, since I never can be bothered with the time it takes to cook them from scratch," Gans said.

Canned chickpeas are not just for meals; registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix said that they can also make a great snack as seasoned, roasted chickpeas after rinsing and draining them. She pointed out that like other beans, chickpeas fit into many different food groups, and provide slow-burning carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Coconut Milk
Brooklyn, NY-based culinary nutritionist Jackie Newgent explained that coconut milk is rich in medium chain triglycerides, giving it "a potentially healthier profile" than many other foods that have high saturated fat levels. "I'm a huge fan of using a just-the-right amount of canned organic coconut milk for providing plant-based lusciousness to both savory and sweet dishes," she said.

Black Olives
Black olives are not just for adding as garnish to tacos, omelets and salads. Joan Salge Blake, registered dietitian and clinical associate professor at the University of Boston, suggests snacking on them too, especially if they are mixed with cheese and nuts. "The combo is deliciously rich in vitamin E, calcium and fiber - three nutrients many folks are falling short of," Blake said.

Canned Tomatoes 
"Whether I'm adding a can to chili, using it in pasta sauce, making a quick skillet shakshuka or topping meatloaf, canned diced tomatoes are a simple way to boost the nutrition of my favorite recipes regardless of the season," said nutrition expert and Cleverful Living creator Holley Grainger. She explained that canned tomatoes, particularly their low-sodium or "no added salt" versions, are loaded with the antioxidant lycopene and are "bursting" with vitamin C, fiber, potassium, iron and other nutrients.

canned goods Amid the coronavirus outbreak, it is good to know that not all canned goods are unhealthy. monicore / Pixabay

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