10 of the best canned foods for healthy meals

10 of the best canned foods for healthy meals

These days, the last thing I want to do is spend hours and hours in my kitchen making a meal.

Canned food is a staple of my pantry to add nutrients to my meals and make cooking so much easier. I often stuff canned garbanzo beans, chicken, diced tomatoes and black beans so I can quickly make salads, wraps and soups.

Preserves are actually practical, inexpensive alternatives to fresh and frozen foods. They make it possible to eat seasonal foods all year round.

While some canned products get a bad rap for their high sodium levels, there are many unsalted and low-salt options.

All in all, you do not have to shop in high-end health food stores or spend a lot of money on groceries to improve your health. Canned foods are affordable and can make healthy eating effortless.

Here are 10 of the healthiest canned foods.

Canned beans include garbanzo beans, pinto beans, black beans, red kidney beans and lime beans. They are not only a staple of vegan and vegetarian diets, but also save you a lot of time, as dried beans require hours of soaking before you can cook them.


In general, canned beans are high in protein and fiber, but low in fat.

Eating a diet high in fiber is essential for lowering cholesterol and weight. This is because fiber helps you feel fuller for longer, which can lead to you generally eating less food (1, 2).

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends choosing unsalted canned items. This is because high salt intake is associated with high blood pressure, which may increase your risk of stroke, kidney disease and heart disease (3, 4).

Make sure the label shows “unsalted” or “no added salt.” If the ingredient list contains salt or sodium, it is best to drain and rinse the beans before use.


Canned beans work well in soups, stews, chilies, salads, fresh salsas, stews, meat dishes and baked desserts.

Canned meat and fish are excellent, inexpensive sources of protein.

Be sure to buy canned proteins in water or brine, not oils or sauces, for their lower calorie and fat content.

For example, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of canned tuna in oil packs 200 calories and 8 grams of fat, while the same amount of canned tuna in water contains only 90 calories and 1 gram of fat (5, 6).

Salmon, tuna, sardines and chicken are good canned protein options.


Canned chicken is very low in fat, but high in protein, calcium and vitamin D. Canned fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of heart disease (7, 8).


Canned meat and fish make it easy to prepare steaks, dips, pastas, salads, soups and quesadillas.

Canned tomatoes in cubes are not only nutritious but also essential in a variety of recipes.


Tomatoes of all kinds contain lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant that gives this fruit its red color and provides disease-fighting benefits (9).

Surprisingly, canned tomatoes have greater amounts of lycopene than fresh tomatoes (10).


Diced tomatoes go well in countless dishes, such as soups, pastas, stews, pizzas, flatbreads and lasagna.

This milk substitute without milk is a good, slightly sweet choice for several recipes.


Although coconut milk has a high fat content, it mostly consists of a specific type called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).

Although more research is needed, MCTs can provide greater heart health benefits than butter, such as increasing HDL (good) cholesterol (11, 12, 13).


Smoothies, soups, dips, sauces, coffee, marinades and desserts all benefit from the creaminess of coconut milk.

Canned green chili gives good taste and works well as a garnish.


Green chili is a type of pepper that is rich in phenolic compounds such as capsaicin.

Capsaicin is responsible for the burning sensation you feel when eating peppers. It also acts as an antioxidant that fights unstable molecules called free radicals to help deal with heart disease (14, 15, 16).

What’s more, only 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of green chili in cubes provides 10% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin A, which is essential for eye health (14, 17).


Add green chili to scrambled eggs, burgers, chili, stir and sandwich.

Corn sometimes gets a bad rap, as starchy vegetables like corn, potatoes and winter squash have more carbohydrates than non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, mushrooms and peppers.

However, baby maize is considered a non-starchy vegetable (18).

If you have diabetes, it is important to limit your intake of carbohydrate-rich foods to control your blood sugar (19).


Baby corn is fat free and very low in calories and carbohydrates. For example, there are only 3 grams of carbohydrates in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of baby corn (20).


Baby corn is perfect for stirred fries, soups, salad toppings and snacks.

There is no need to deal with a peel of canned mandarin oranges. This naturally sweet, sour fruit is bursting with nutrients.

Still, to cut down on your intake of added sugar, it is best to buy canned tangerines in juice instead of syrup.


Only 1 cup (249 grams) of mandarin oranges gives 6% of DV for folate, 12% of DV for vitamin A and 94% of DV for vitamin C (21).

Folate is essential for pregnancy as lack of this nutrient can cause fetal development problems. Today, many foods are fortified with folate to prevent this (22).

Eating foods like mandarins that provide vitamin A can help prevent conditions such as night blindness (23).

Canned mandarin oranges can also help prevent a vitamin C deficiency associated with a malfunctioning immune system (24).


Enjoy canned mandarin oranges straight out of the can, in baked goods or as a topping for yogurt, cottage cheese or salads.

With their distinct flavors and nutrients, olives do more than decorate your martini glass.


Only 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of preserved olives provide 7% of DV for calcium, 35% of DV for iron and 11% of DV for vitamin E (25).

Your body needs iron to circulate oxygen through your red blood cells and vitamin E to act as an antioxidant and help fight inflammation (26, 27).

Canned olives are also very high in sodium. While sodium is an important nutrient, too much can lead to high blood pressure (28).

As such, it is important to look for varieties with low salinity.


Olives are great for pizzas and sandwiches, as well as in salads, hummus and tapenade. Many people enjoy them on charcuterie boards.

Canned pumpkins can bring autumn flavors into your home all year round. It is also very nutritious.


One cup (245 grams) canned pumpkin has 7 grams of fiber, 45% of DV for magnesium, 10% of DV for both potassium and vitamin C and as much as 208% of DV for vitamin A (29).

Fiber can help prevent constipation by keeping food moving through your gut, as well as promote weight loss by helping you feel full. Meanwhile, vitamin A is necessary for optimal eye health (17).


In addition to its obvious uses in desserts such as pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread, canned pumpkin is a delicious ingredient in soups, smoothies, mousse, pudding and pasta dishes.

This fibrous tropical fruit is notoriously hard to open, so it’s a good thing it comes in a can. Jackfruit is a popular vegan and vegetarian substitute for pulled pork.


Jackfruit is a low calorie food that can promote weight loss as it only has 16 calories in 2 ounces (56 grams). It is also a heart-healthy alternative to meat as it is free of fat and cholesterol (30).


Jackfruit is a great filling for tacos or enchiladas, as well as a healthy ingredient in batter and fried rice.

It is best to avoid foods that are preserved with excess sugar or salt.

To do this, choose canned fruits in their juice or in water and check nutrition labels for their sodium content.

Canned fruit in syrup

The general rule for buying canned fruit is to choose only those that are preserved in water or their own juice, as they contain less sugar than those that are preserved in syrup.

High sugar intake is associated with hyperactivity, brain deficiency and overweight and obesity in both children and adults (31, 32).

Canned items with a high sodium content

Canned soups, pastas and meats can contain large amounts of sodium, which can increase your risk of conditions such as high blood pressure or heart failure. You can control your sodium content by making homemade versions of these foods (33).

The AHA defines low sodium foods as those with less than 140 mg per day. portion. Check the label on canned food to limit your sodium intake (34).

Healthy eating does not have to be expensive.

Canned food is cheap, quick to cook with and rich in nutrients that benefit your health. In addition, they last a long time and can be used in a variety of recipes.

Always read the nutrition declaration to determine if a particular canned product fits your lifestyle.

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