Nutrition – tinned and pre-cooked food

Posted on 2 June 2014

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

10 basics on tin food & pre-cooked vegetables

For me, tinned foods tend to bring up associations of camping and living out in the country. Yet when I walk along supermarkets there are so many brands and types of tinned foods. The canning industry seems to be booming. For many of us caught in a time rush, racing to prepare quick meals; tinned foods and pre-cooked vegetables seem to provide some yummy options!

Tinned food - photo courtesy of Matty and Sharon at Stock.Xchng1. We call them tinned foods but generally tinned foods are actually packed in aluminium (light metal) cans. Once we use the can it adds to the rubbish, not the best form of discarded garbage as can edges can injure animals. Throw old tins in a designated recycle bin if you do use them.

2. Acid may cause the aluminium of cans to leech out. It doesn’t mean all tinned tomatoes or acidic fruits such as pineapple are especially harmful. It might be worth being mindful of this and reducing high acidic foods that come out of a tin.

3. Fruits are naturally high in sugar, such as fructose. Tinned fruits often have added sugar in the form of syrup. Rather choose natural fresh fruits or at the minimum canned fruits preserved in fruit juice.

4. Tinned beans, lentils and vegetables are commonly preserved with high amounts of salt. If the label states it is in saline water; be alert that this is just salt water.

5. A really great brand of tinned foods seems to the Rhodes brand. You will see they have a range of fruits preserved in fruit juice and some exceptional tasty vegetable mixes while still being moderate in added salt.

6. The liquid that submerges your food in tins is usually high in salt or sugar too. Wait before you go drain it, remember that minerals and water-soluble vitamins tend to stick in the watery sections. Then it becomes a toss between high salt/sugar or some extra nutrients. If you have hypertension, sugar diabetes or a susceptibility to these illnesses then drain out that water.

7. Did you know good old tinned baked beans are especially significant for their contribution of magnesium? Magnesium is one of those special minerals that also assist in calcium metabolism. My dear female friends, no it is not only milk that provides strong bones; we need other nutrients too!

8. We are over-processing foods; we change the nutritional value and chemical structure through processing. I still advocate that being vegan requires us to be mindful of how we are duped into the fast food culture.

9. The impact of sugar on our health is scary. We need to start taking action and daily responsibility through our food choices. Sugar diabetes, cancer, mood swings, headaches and fatigue are just some of the problems that are known to develop and get worse with sugar.

10. Then we go on and add table salt (which is sodium chloride) to our vegetables, besides the times we add sugar to our vegetables! Next thing you know we have a sense of water retention; ummmm was it not because of all that salt you’ve been eating over the years. Excess salt is known to not only be linked to high blood pressure, but also headaches and a sense of being bloated (especially around the abdomen due to water retention).

I absolutely love my vegetables. Then when I go out to restaurants I would not let a restaurant-served vegetable soup touch my lips. Why? First off, many chefs add a bit of dairy or tinned ingredients. Lastly, chefs sometimes put taste above health. Ok I don’t blame chefs; no one will come to a restaurant that serves bland foods.  Restaurants often run on a budget and the cheapest and most common taste bud-wagging ingredients are sugar and salt.

Sometimes I consider the pre-made meals display at supermarkets. The smashed pumpkin or butternut always looks appetizing, come on that’s one of my favourite vegetables. Then I step back, knowing that oh-so sweet orange vegetable has been ruined with added sugar.

Even when eating at other people’s homes, I wonder is this vegetable just naturally sweet?

Take care, Anastacia


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