Expert advice on dealing with canned food

Expert advice on dealing with canned food

It’s Canned Food Month and we are looking at the best way to use canned foods.

Woman preparing dinner out of a can
Woman preparing dinner out of a can/ iStock

Canned foods are easy to store, and have a long shelf life, not forgetting how convenient they are. 

According to canning was first developed in the late 18th century to provide a stable food source for soldiers and sailors at war. In the canning process, cans are treated to destroy harmful bacteria and prevent spoiling.

Nowadays canned foods range from soups, vegetables and meats to fruit salads.

But what is the best way to use canned foods and what are some precautions one should adhere to when using canned foods? Dietitian Sylven Masoga answers those questions for us.

The best place to store canned food is in a cool and dry place. Cans should be kept out of direct excessive heat such as the sunlight or near the stove or oven. This might cause the can to rust.

“Be careful of buying any canned food that has dents, because those dents might leak some other particles into the food product,” warns Masoga.

Canned foods should be used within the expiry date.

Once the can is opened, the contents of the can should be decanted into a suitable container and be kept in the refrigerator.

Canned food can last for years.

Although canned foods have a long shelf life, they still expire and it’s important that you consume the food before the expiry date.

Read the expiry date on the can to avoid consumption after the food is spoiled.

Masoga says it’s important that consumers pay careful attention to the labelling, particularly the nutritional analysis or content of that canned product. 

“Look for the Sodium content. Most canned foods are processed and tend to be high in Sodium. Sodium in the can food may not only appear only as Sodium (Na), but it might appear as Sodium Chloride (NaCl) or Potassium Chloride (KCl) or Sodium Monosodium glutamate (MSG),” says Masoga.

He warns that some canned food might also be high in saturated fat and low in fibre.  

“For example, when it comes to canned fruits, you may find that the peel of the skin of fruit are off, and that skin contains fibre that you want. Therefore, you might not get adequacy of the fibre from the canned fruits as opposed to the whole fruit.”   

“Whenever the fibre content of food is relatively low, individuals complaining of constipation and other digestive problems might not benefit from that fibre which are related to the proper functioning of the intestines, assisting in the lowering the amount of fat that enters into the blood and for regulating a gradual release of glucose from food upon entry into the bloodstream,” says Masoga.

He warns that some people might also react to preservatives or colourants found in some of the canned products, so they must take precaution.

Lastly, Masoga advice that “people must avoid choosing canned food, but preferably most of the time they must rather eat whole foods.”

READ: Overweight children: How to get your child to eat healthy

Image courtesy of iStock/ Studio-Annika

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