Canned food: is it good or bad for you? Our consumption of canned food is on the rise- it estimated that 99.2% of us buy some sort of canned product regularly. But is canned food good for your health? It’s not unusual to find people willing to criticise canned food for its nutritional levels and even some who suggest there may be dangers in consuming it. So what is the truth behind it? There are a number of great resources online where you can learn about the canning process and how it affects the food contained in the cans. (Take a look at food canning specialists, Eurocan for more information.) We’ve put together details on whether canned food is good or bad for you looking at everything from the benefits of buying canned to some of the apparent changes to food by the process. Convenient, affordable and long-lasting The first thing to note is that one of the major benefits of buying canned food is that it allows you to make healthy choices more easily. We all know that it is important to get as many fruit and vegetables into our diet as possible, but buying fresh can be extremely expensive, especially given they spoil very quickly and we can end up throwing away a lot of what we buy. This is where canned goods can become so useful. The canning process, which involves the heating of processed and sealed cans to kill harmful bacteria contained within them, means that canned food will last for a very long time compared to fresh food. It also tends to be cheaper which gives you access to more variety. Most nutrition is unaffected by canning You might assume, however, that due to the fact that canned food has to be heated in order to kill bacteria, much of the nutritional benefits of the food would be lost. But this isn’t the case at all. The truth is that the vast majority of the nutritional aspects of the food are not altered by the canning process. Protein, carbohydrates and fat and completely unaffected by the heating. For other aspects of the nutrition such as vitamins and minerals it is a little more complicated, but in general you don’t see a huge difference in the food before it is processed compared to that which you get out of the can. Vitamins and minerals In the main, vitamins and minerals are unaffected by the process of canning. For example, these vitamins that are fat-soluble such as vitamins A, D, E and K are entirely retained during canning and are found at levels that are no different to pre-processed versions of the food. However, for the canned food to be ridded of bacteria the contents need to be heated to a high temperature. This means that water-soluble vitamins such as C and B can be damaged and lose some of their value. It’s worth noting, of course, that these vitamins can also be damaged if they are cooked at home, so if you cook fresh foods with these vitamins they can be lost in the same way. Interestingly, however, the heating process can actually be a good thing for some ingredients. For example, tomatoes and sweetcorn release more antioxidants when they are heated. So canned versions of these foods will be higher in antioxidants than fresh versions. Is BPA a problem? Another issue that has been suggested for canned foods being bad for you is that of BPA. BPA is the shortened name of Bisphenol-A which is a chemical found in the lining of cans. There has been studies that have suggested that when food is stored in cans, the BPA can transfer to the foods and get into your body. Some evidence has shown that BPA can affect blood pressure and increase your risk of cancer. However, it is important to note that the much of the evidence is mixed and some studies have suggested that BPA can’t be linked to these health issues. Nevertheless, it has been shown that BPA can get into your body through eating canned food, so if you are certain you want to avoid BPA it is best to reduce your intake of canned foods. For the majority of people, however, the low risks associated with canned food are hugely outweighed by the benefits. About the Author: Dakota Murphey enjoys sharing her experiences of living a healthy lifestyle through her blog posts. Working as a freelance writer for a multitude of different industries, when she's not writing or cooking up a storm in her kitchen she enjoys hiking and countryside walks with her family.